Safe Work Australia issues guidance to prevent psychological harm at work

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, 12 August, 2022 - 12:30
Policy & legislation
National News

Safe Work Australia recently released new WHS regulations as part of the model WHS laws and an accompanying code of practice designed to help prevent psychological harm in the workplace.

The model Code of Practice on Managing psychosocial hazards at work explains the laws and how to comply with them, including practical steps to manage workplace risks to psychological health.

“Under work health and safety laws, PCBUs have a positive duty to do everything they reasonably can to prevent exposure to psychosocial hazards and risks,” said Safe Work Australia CEO Michelle Baxter.

“Psychosocial hazards are anything at work that may cause psychological harm.

“They can come from the way work is designed and managed, the working environment, or behaviours including bullying, harassment, discrimination, aggression and violence.”

Baxter said work-related psychological injuries and illness have a significant negative impact on workers, their families and business.

“On average, work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work when compared with physical injuries.

“Workers’ compensation claims for psychological injury and illness have increased and impose high costs to employers through time off and workers’ compensation costs.

“Managing psychosocial risks protects workers, decreases staff turnover and absenteeism, and may improve broader organisational performance and productivity.”

The model WHS Regulations and Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work were developed through Safe Work Australia’s tripartite process which includes Commonwealth, state and territory governments, and employer and worker representatives.