Psychosocial Legislation and Employer Obligations

by Jul 14, 2023All Posts, Industrial Relations, WH&S

As of the 1st of April 2023 for Commonwealth jurisdictions a new code has been introduced to the Workplace Health and Safety Acts Code and Regulations. Each state will adopt the code and roll out within their jurisdiction. The introduced code states that employers need to, ‘manage the risk of psychosocial hazards at work’, increasing preventative efforts to address any potential hazards in the workplace.

Obligation 

In Australia, it is an Employer’s obligation to work within the guidelines of the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011. This states that employers have a duty of care to provide all employees with a safe working environment that is free of harm, inclusive of psychosocial (mental) injury. In some industries, there may be additional regulations that relate to psychosocial hazards, dependent upon the industry and the nature of work. For example, industries that involve risk of physical harm or violent interaction, may requisite additional employer efforts to implement control measures to prevent PTSD, anxiety and/or other relative mental health issues.  

Prevention 

Psychosocial risks and hazards can result from just about anything, which only enhances the importance of employers implementing effective process and control measures to eliminate, isolate and regulate these. To successfully manage psychosocial risks, employers need to: 

    • Identify the hazards 

    • Assess the risks 

    • Implement control measures for eliminating or isolating the risk 

    • Regularly review measures for effectiveness and relevance (not just the measures but employee feedback on the effectiveness!)

    • Consult, notify, and educate employees of changes 

To learn more, see our blog post ‘Reducing Psychosocial Hazards, Injuries and Claims’.  

Scope 

We urge you not to limit your understanding of psychosocial injury to incidents and claims that are specific to this being the primary health cause and provoked by only ‘workload’. It is a very broad area that requires identification of potential impacts beyond daily tasks and the office. For example, a lack of employee communicative efforts to employees working within flexible working arrangements poses a great risk to employee psychosocial health, as they may be feeling disconnected and stressed. 

There is also the risk of developing of a secondary injury, which occurs as a result of an existing physical injury or circumstantial factor. Secondary injury often develops during an employee compensation claim, with the potential for employer communication to be ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’. This can greatly impact the mental injury of an employee and the management of associated claims. If you can relate to this or want to know more, we advise you read here.

Solution 

The team at AHR understand how overwhelming it can be to manage all aspects of HR, especially when it comes to understanding the continuously increasing scope that is full workplace compliance. We can equip you with the tools to manage or eliminate psychosocial hazards in your workplace, we can work with you to implement and isolate the risks, or we can do it all for you and provide you with regular reviews, feedback and prompt employee notice. Get in touch with the AHR team today on 1800 577 515, and one of our professionals will assist you in identifying the most appropriate services to suit your needs. Remember, a WHS compliant team is a safe, happy, and productive one! 

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