Psychosocial Hazards

Under model WHS laws, psychosocial hazards and risks are treated the same as physical hazards and risks.

Under the model WHS laws, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risk of psychosocial hazards in the workplace.

Arising from a review of the WHS laws in 2018, the Model WHS laws, which have been adopted by all states (except for Victoria, however, they’re not far behind) were updated to include guidance in responsibilities to identify, assess and control any psychosocial hazards and risks. Like above, the emphasis is on a positive duty to identify, assess and control.

Psychosocial hazards are broadly defined as any hazard that:

  • arises from, or relates to the design or management of work, a work environment, plant at a workplace or workplace interactions or behaviours; and
  • may cause psychological harm (whether or not it may also cause physical harm).

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A psychosocial hazard refers to any aspect of work that has the potential to cause psychological harm. These hazards can arise from various factors in the workplace, including:

  • High demands of the job
  • Limited control over work tasks
  • Insufficient support from colleagues and management
  • Unclear job roles and responsibilities
  • Ineffective management of changes within the organisation
  • Lack of recognition and rewards for work efforts
  • Unfair treatment or practices within the organisation
  • Exposure to traumatic content or situations
  • Working in isolation or remote locations
  • Substandard conditions of the physical work environment
  • Experiences of violence or aggressive behavior
  • Instances of bullying
  • All forms of harassment, including sexual harassment
  • Interpersonal conflicts or poor relations among colleagues and staff.

A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must eliminate psychosocial risks, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable.

Psychosocial hazards can create stress. This can cause psychological or physical harm. Stress itself is not an injury. But if workers are stressed often, over a long time, or the level of stress is high, it can cause harm. E.g. prolonged exposure to difficult claims. Psychological harm may include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders. Physical harm may include musculoskeletal injuries, chronic disease or fatigue related injuries.

Psychosocial hazards may interact or combine to create new, changed or higher risks. It is important to consider all the psychosocial hazards workers may be exposed to when managing psychosocial risks. Some hazards may not create psychosocial risks on their own but may do so if combined with other hazards. For example, when workloads are high the risk may increase if workers cannot take breaks or there is no one around to help. Some hazards may only create risks on their own when severe.

Psychosocial hazards are managed by following the same four-step risk management process that is used to manage physical hazards.

The 4 step risk management process would include:

  1. Identify any psychosocial risks
  2. Assess the impact of all identified risks
  3. Control risks by eliminating and minimising them as much as possible, and
  4. Review any control measures implemented, to ensure they are effective.

Our team of experts is here to guide you through understanding, identifying, and addressing psychosocial hazards in your workplace, ensuring compliance and a healthier work environment.

We offer guidance and strategies to help you identify and manage these hazards, focusing on creating a supportive and positive work environment. Our team, equipped with a broad range of expertise, works collaboratively with you to foster a culture that prioritises the mental wellbeing of every team member, contributing to a more productive, engaged, and healthy workplace.

We help with a suite of tools and specialised expertise to identify, assess, and mitigate workplace mental health risks. Our services are tailored to help businesses meet their workplace obligations and foster a supportive and mentally healthy work environment.

Why is managing psychosocial hazards important?

Beyond the legal obligations and safe workplace compliance, addressing these hazards is crucial for employee well-being, productivity, and overall business continuity.

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All our consulting packages include:

Risk assessment toolkit to support your business in assessing risks, developing a plan to reduce the likelihood of incidents happening and demonstrate that you have taken steps to protect people from harm and comply with legislation.

Communication assets to help you communicate and implement changes including email templates, information posters, guidelines and fact sheets demonstrating your commitment.

Documents to guide your approach in the workplace and set expectations and manage your risks which will include policies, procedures and frameworks.

Dedicated time with our in house expert: you can use the time to understand your obligations, plan the approach, or implement the solutions. Your place or ours.

The responsibility of managing psychosocial hazards applies to a person conducting a business
or undertaking - PCBU (Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking).

Small Business Solution

For companies with less than 20 workers
$ 3,000 + GST
  • All documentation
  • Support from our experts

Medium Business Solution

For companies with 21 - 200 workers
$ 7,000 + GST
  • All documentation
  • Support from our experts

Large Business Solution

For companies more than 200 workers
$ 10,000 + GST
  • All documentation
  • Support from our experts

Custom Business Solution

For all companies that need expert support
  • Bespoke solution
  • Support from our experts