New code to improve mental health in Queensland workplaces

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Friday, 14 April, 2023 - 12:15
Policy & legislation

A new code of practice that addresses psychological health risks at work, such as exposure to traumatic events or isolated working, recently came into force in Queensland.

The new code, Managing the Risk of psychosocial hazards at Work Code of Practice, commenced on 1 April and is the first of its kind in Australia to be legally enforceable.

The code includes advice on how to comply with existing health and safety obligations after a national review found many employers were unsure of their duties to manage psychological health and safety risks at work.

It also provides practical examples of managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace, industry-specific case studies, and a range of helpful templates that businesses can tailor.

“Research has shown that workers benefit from psychologically healthy workplaces through better individual health, increased job satisfaction, commitment, positive attitudes toward self-development, and lower rates of work-related physical injuries,” said Queensland Minister for Industrial Relations Grace Grace.

“We know that physical risks and hazards are often more visible: being able to prevent a psychological injury is not always as obvious.

“That’s why we created the code – to protect workers, support businesses to have a greater awareness of what signs and symptoms to look for, and to provide a framework to minimise risks.”

This code outlines the minimum standard for managing risks to workers’ psychological health that may result from psychosocial hazards.

The code is broken down into five sections, with information about the most common psychosocial hazards, who has health and safety duties relating to psychosocial hazards, what is reasonably practicable in managing these hazards, and also other relevant laws that may apply, that duty holders should be aware of.

It also provides information and guidance on consulting with workers who are (or are likely to be) directly affected by psychosocial hazards at work – and the importance of consulting, cooperating and coordinating your risk management activities with other relevant duty holders (for example where you might share the same workplace).

The final sections of the code provide guidance on applying the risk management process to psychosocial risks and hazards, responding to complaints, incidents or reports of psychosocial hazards, and issue and dispute resolution.