Safe Work Australia has released a new model Code of Practice which provides guidance on how organisations can best manage psychosocial risks in the workplace.
A psychosocial hazard causes harm through stress. If stress is prolonged, frequent, or severe it can cause psychosocial and physical harm
Examples of psychosocial injuries may include:
- Job demands
- Low job control
- Poor support
- Lack of role clarity
- Poor management (including micromanagement)
- Inadequate reward and recognition
- Remote or isolated work
- Poor physical environment
- Violence and aggression
- Poor workplace relationships
- Repeated exposure to traumatic events or material
Inside this Code of Practice, the laws surrounding psychosocial risks and injuries and how to comply with them are explained, as businesses now have a legal duty to ensure their workplace is psychosocially safe.
In short, under the WHS Regulations, to manage psychosocial risks, a workplace must:
- identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could give rise to psychosocial risks
- eliminate risks, so far as is reasonably practicable
- if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risks – minimise the risks so far as is reasonably practicable
- maintain implemented control measures so they remain effective, and
- review, and if necessary revise, control measures so as to maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, a work environment that is without risks to health and safety
It is essential to have a mentally healthy workplace that protects employees against psychosocial harm, in order for the business to thrive. These kinds of injuries can have longer and more severe effects on the employee and the business than physical injuries can.
They have longer recovery times, higher costs, higher levels of presenteeism, absenteeism, and longer sick leave while also being damaging to the morale and reputation of the business.
Taking the mental health of employees seriously contributes to positive work environments and gives people a greater sense of purpose, achievement, and pride in their work. It also improves productivity,
and job performance lowers staff turnover, increases profits, and benefits the longevity and success of the business.
Failure to comply with these new mental health laws can now result in legal action as we have seen several successful lawsuits against organisations. Take a look at Safe Australia’s code of practice here and read about the practical steps your business can take towards managing psychosocial hazards at work.