Untitled design - 2023-05-05T084951.132

Psychosocial Safety in the Workplace: A case for being pro-active

Over the past few years, the Work Health Safety (WHS) landscape has undergone several changes that affect the way we deal with psychosocial safety in the workplace.

As defined by SafeWork Australia, a psychosocial hazard is anything that could cause psychological harm. In June 2022, SafeWork Australia published a set of changes to the national WHS Act (2011), including clearer definitions of psychosocial hazards and risks and clarification of the control measures that employers must put in place to reduce risk.

The legislative change led to the publication of a Model Code of Practice: Managing Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace, which has been adopted in most states. It provides a higher level of clarity on the prevention of psychological harm for both employers and regulators.

While some states have not yet adopted the Model Code of Practice or equivalent provisions, it is essential to note that a court may refer to the Model Act, Regulations, and Codes of Practice in reviewing a case.

In light of these changes, DCM Institute’s partner Jo Marshall of Culturise suggests that employers should evaluate their current policies, procedures, and behavioural guides to determine whether any psychosocial risks are present.

“SafeWork Australia and the various State Regulating bodies have a range of educational information and templates to help you carry out a Psychosocial Risk Assessment,” Jo said.

“Issues dealt with previously under the Anti-harassment, Bullying and Discrimination laws are now also addressed clearly in the Codes of Practice and Regulations under WHS”.

Employers should focus on providing training and development to staff to ensure they are self-aware of their own mental health as a proactive measure to address the changes in the WHS Act. This includes creating awareness about psychosocial hazards and risks and training staff to recognize signs of psychological harm. It is also essential to establish a reporting system for employees to report any incidents of psychological harm.

In the month of May, DCM Institute will be partnering with Culturise to provide a master class on mental health. This master class, referred to as “Hand Me the Oxygen Mask” is designed to help participants in DCM Institute’s professional development program improve their ability to manage their own mental health so that they can perform at a high performance with managing their team, and delivering improved outcomes for their residents.

“Every single thing about achieving a psychosocially safe workplace has a direct impact on creating a healthier culture.  A healthier culture means a more successful business.  Taking time out to focus on how psychologically safe your workplace is a worthwhile investment,” Jo concluded.

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