Under Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Regulations, A Person Conducting Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is required to take proactive measures to identify, assess, control, and review psychosocial hazards.
By following the four-step process below, business owners can create a work environment that prioritises the well-being of their staff.
Step 1: Identify Hazards
The first step in managing psychosocial risks is to identify reasonably foreseeable hazards that could potentially give rise to such risks. This involves a thorough examination of the workplace environment, work processes, and job demands. Psychosocial hazards can include lack of role clarity, bullying, harassment, remote work, and poor change management just to name a few.
By understanding the potential sources of harm, organisations can better protect their employees from psychosocial risks.
Step 2: Assess Risks
Once any hazards have been identified, it is important to assess the risks associated with each hazard. A comprehensive assessment will help determine the nature and severity of the potential harm and the likelihood of it occurring. If the risks and appropriate control measures are already known, this step may be bypassed. However, in cases where new risks are identified or changes in work conditions occur, a comprehensive risk assessment should be carried out.
People at Work is a free and validated Australian psychosocial risk assessment survey which can be used by a PCBU. The survey assesses the most common psychosocial hazards and factors and can be used to identify, assess, and control risks to psychological health at work.
In addition to the survey, the site has resources to help managers:
- Prepare for and roll out the People at Work survey,
- Interpret the results, and
- Take action based on the survey results.
Step 3: Control Risks
The control of workplace psychosocial risks involves implementing the most effective control measures that are reasonably practicable in the given circumstances. The primary objective is to eliminate risks wherever possible. However, if elimination is not reasonably practicable, businesses should focus on minimising the risks as far as reasonably practicable. It is essential to continuously evaluate and maintain implemented control measures to ensure their ongoing effectiveness.
Step 4: Review Control Measures
Regularly reviewing control measures is crucial to ensure they are working as planned and remain effective over time. This step allows businesses to identify any gaps or shortcomings in the existing measures and make necessary adjustments. By staying proactive in reviewing and revising control measures, organizations can maintain a work environment that is without risks to health and safety.
Consultation and Relevant Factors
Throughout the entire risk management process, consultation is paramount. Involving workers and other relevant stakeholders fosters a collaborative approach and ensures that their perspectives and concerns are considered.
When determining control measures, a PCBU must consider various factors.
These factors include things like the duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to psychosocial hazards, the potential interactions or combinations of these hazards, the design of work, and the systems in place to manage and support work.
Additionally, the physical design and layout of the workplace, provision of welfare facilities, accommodation conditions, equipment and structures, workplace interactions, and the adequacy of information, training, instruction, and supervision provided to workers should be considered.
For assistance completing a psychological risk assessment and workforce consultation, contact our experienced Human Resources and Health & Safety staff on 08 9535 4604.
‘’Managing psychosocial risks is a crucial responsibility for businesses. By following the four-step risk management process and considering all relevant factors, organisations can create a safe and healthy work environment for their employees’’ – Tennille Koenig, WHS Consultant, HR Legal Connect.