In 2021, New South Wales introduced a Code of Practice on managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work, which paved the way for Safe Work Australia to publish amendments to model WHS Laws in June 2022. This amendment detailed the importance of employers implementing controls and managing psychosocial risks to employees.
In April 2023, new Work Health and Safety Laws officially came into effect in commonwealth jurisdictions that prescribe how employers must approach, identify and manage hazards and risks to their employee’s psychological health and safety. This article will explore the changes to WHS Laws with regard to Psychological Health & Safety.
A review conducted in 2017-2018 found that psychological health was neglected in the model WHS Regulations and Codes of Practice. As a result, Safe Work Australia updated the model WHS Regulations in July 2022 to incorporate recommendations regarding psychosocial risks in the workplace. They also published a new model Code of Practice titled “Managing psychosocial hazards at work,” providing guidance on identifying, managing, and controlling such hazards.
Each Australian state has adopted its own version of the Code of Practice, incorporating the changes made by Safe Work Australia. If an approved code of practice exists, businesses must either comply with it or manage hazards and risks in a way that provides an equivalent or higher standard of health and safety. The Codes of Practice serve as practical guidance tools and can be used as evidence in court proceedings.
Check with your WHS regulator to confirm if this Code of Practice is legally recognised in your jurisdiction.
Safe Work Australia defines Psychosocial Hazards as anything that could cause psychological harm to someone.
This could include the following hazards:
Psychosocial hazards can combine and increase the overall risk. It is important to consider all hazards employees may face when managing psychosocial risks. As these hazards could cause ongoing stress and harm to the physical and mental health of employees if not identified and managed correctly.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the well-being of workers by safeguarding them from the potential harm caused by work-related stress. As workers may encounter various psychosocial hazards, some of which are persistent while others are irregular, employers should have a comprehensive understanding of these risks and implement effective controls.
Employers should aim to regularly assess psychosocial hazards through the following actions:
By actively monitoring and addressing psychosocial hazards, employers can create a healthier and safe work environment for their employees.
With the new work health and safety laws introduced in Australia, it is essential to consider the impact of psychosocial hazards on lone workers. As per the updated WHS laws, psychosocial hazards can combine and pose ongoing risks to employees if proper controls are not in place.
Working alone exposes individuals to various psychosocial risks, including traumatic events, challenging physical environments, and incidents of violence and aggression. Employers must prioritise the safety and well-being of lone workers by implementing measures to address these hazards and ensure compliance with the WHS regulations.
Introducing a lone worker safety tool, such as WorkSafe Guardian could help relieve psychological pressure or stress an employee may be experiencing due to isolated or dangerous working conditions. The WorkSafe Guardian App includes various features such as a safety and medical alert button and welfare check-ins. An external 24/7 monitoring service manages alerts, ensuring employees have peace of mind knowing that help is available at all times. In the event of an emergency, such as an accident or a failed check-in during a lone working session, the app can help locate the employee and quickly provide assistance.
Encouraging lone workers to use the WorkSafe Guardian App daily allows employees to feel safe and secure in the workplace. Utilising lone worker apps, like the WorkSafe Guardian App, demonstrates a commitment to fulfilling an employer’s duty of care as well as meeting legislation requirements.
Find out more about keeping your lone workers safe with WorkSafe Guardian.
For further information on managing psychological health and safety, check out the following resources:
Discover how WorkSafe Guardian revolutionises lone worker safety in the face of an underutilised resource—smartphones. With nearly 90% of Australians owning smartphones, explore how these devices can be harnessed for a robust workplace health and safety approach.
Lone working can enhance productivity and flexibility for many Australian businesses, but it also exposes lone workers to numerous risks and hazards. Understand the Work Health and Safety legislation in Australia and the primary risks and hazards associated with lone working.