Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace
Understanding and Tackling Psychosocial Hazards at Work
We are entering a new era of workplace safety. We’re not just talking about hard hats and safety boots, but also about addressing psychosocial hazards at work. But what are psychosocial hazards and why should you, as a business, care?
What are Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace?
Psychosocial hazards are aspects of work that can lead to psychological harm (i.e. harm someone’s mental health). Think along the lines of job demands, lack of job control, poor support, and remote or isolated work. Recognise any of these from your latest engagement survey? If so, it’s time to address them head-on.
The Impact of Psychosocial Hazards at Work
The impact of psychosocial hazards in the workplace is far-reaching. They can lead to anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or sleep disorders, as well as physical health issues like cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders.
The organisational impact? Decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, high turnover, and potential legal and compensation claims. That’s why managing these hazards is not just about meeting your commitments as an employer—it’s also key to maintaining an efficient and effective workforce.
Your Obligation to Keep Employees Safe
Federal and State Governments have recently amended, or put forth proposed amendments to, their Work Health & Safety regulations to impose a positive duty on employers to identify and manage psychological & mental health hazards to protect workers from mental health injury. You can find your relevant State regulations here.
This is a big step in the right direction. The regulations specifically refer to these hazards and put the onus on employers to identify, eliminate (where possible) or minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, risks that arise from psychosocial hazards in the workplace.
So what do you need to do as an employer to manage psychosocial hazards at work? You might already be doing some, or all, of these but it’s time to formalise it and proactively address potential risks (e.g. your engagement survey is telling you that your people are feeling like they have less control over their job).
- Identify reasonably foreseeable hazards
- Eliminate psychosocial risks if it is reasonably practicable to do so, or if it isn’t reasonably practicable to eliminate these risks, minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable
- Maintain control measures to ensure they remain effective
- Review control measures when required.
Managing psychosocial hazards at work is a journey. The regulations require employers to constantly review their hazards, not in isolation but as a whole.
If your latest engagement survey has identified potential psychosocial hazards and you are looking at changing your systems of work, work design or just some training to shore up that last line of defence – reach out to Inventium today for a chat.