Managing psychosocial hazards at work

By Muirgen O'Seighin, Lucy Tehan
Employment & Safety

Australia's first Code of Practice introduced 2 min read

The New South Wales Government has introduced Australia's first Code of Practice (Code) for managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace.

The Code provides employers with practical guidance about how to protect workers from psychosocial hazards in the workplace and comply with their work health and safety obligations in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) (the Act) and the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) (the Regulations). 

How does it affect you?

  • Employers' work health and safety duties extend to ensuring, so far as reasonably practicable, the psychological health of their workers.
  • Psychosocial hazards are elements in the design or management of work that increase the risk of work-related stress and result in psychological or physical harm. Common examples include role overload, low job control, exposure to conflict or aggression (from colleagues or customers), and poor supervisor or co-worker support.
  • Employers should continuously review their workplace health and safety systems to ensure they adequately identify and assess potential psychosocial hazards, implement controls to minimise risks to workers' psychological health, and monitor the effectiveness of those controls. The review should be specific to the workplace.
  • The Code outlines how employers can identify and assess psychosocial risks and provides guidance to assist employers to determine what is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise those risks.
  • While the Code is not legally enforceable, it is approved under the Act and courts may use it as evidence of what is known about psychosocial risks and the steps that would be 'reasonably practicable' for employers to take to meet their legislative work health and safety obligations.