Managing psychosocial hazards and risks at work is just as important as managing physical risks, and increased focus has now been placed on these by the Queensland Government.
The Queensland Government recently introduced the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work Code of Practice 2022 ("the Code") which is due to commence from 1 April 2023. This is the same date that the Work Health and Safety (Psychosocial Risks) Amendment Regulation 2022 ("the Amendment Regulation") will come into force. The Amendment Regulation specifies that ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking' ("PCBU") (i.e. employers) must address and manage psychosocial hazards and risks through the risk management provisions of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.
Psychosocial hazards are anything at work that may cause psychological or physical harm and may arise from:
- the way the tasks or job are designed, organised, managed and supervised;
- tasks or jobs where there are inherent psychosocial hazards and risks;
- the equipment, working environment or requirements to undertake duties in physically hazardous environments, and
- social factors at work, workplace relationships and social interactions.
Some common examples of psychosocial hazards are:
- high and/or low job demands
- low job control
- poor support
- low role clarity
- poor organisational change management
- low reward and recognition
- poor organisational justice
- workplace relationships
- remote or isolated work
- poor environmental conditions
- traumatic events
- violence and aggression
- bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment
More than one psychosocial hazard may be experienced at the same time. Psychosocial hazards may interact or combine to increase the overall psychosocial risk and should be considered together.
The Code will include practical guidance for PCBUs and employers to assist them in understanding their rights and responsibilities in relation to psychosocial hazards and risks, and will assist in selecting effective controls to manage these hazards and risks. The Code is also a helpful resource for workers who may experience harm from psychosocial hazards, including psychological harm, at work.
"The legally enforceable psychosocial Code of Practice and regulations will directly address psychological health risks at work, which can be anything from exposure to traumatic events to remote or isolated working," Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said. The Code and Regulations will cover employers, workers, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, the self-employed, apprentices, trainees, work experience students, and volunteers. They will also cover other people in workplaces such as customers and visitors.
Please reach out to Darren Sharry and the DWF Risk team if you have any questions about the Code or the Amendment Regulation, or if you require assistance in meeting and managing your new obligations.