The Managing Psychosocial Hazards At Work Code of Practice (the Code) is now in effect. This legally enforceable code provides employers and workers with guidance on how to prevent harm from psychosocial hazards at work.

Managing psychosocial hazards and risks at work is just as important as managing physical risks. Psychosocial hazards can exist in every workplace, in every industry, every day.

The new Code and regulations will raise awareness of existing duties and provide clarity and certainty for duty holders about their obligations under the Act to ensure psychological health risks are eliminated or minimised.

The release of the Code along with amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation, are important steps in keeping workplaces safe, healthy and productive. The harm created by psychosocial hazards and risks varies, and the effects are not always obvious. It can be a single event involving one or more psychosocial risks, such as exposure to a traumatic event. It can be a combination of psychosocial risks that accumulate to create frequent, prolonged or severe stress responses.

Who does the Code and Regulations apply to?

The Code and Regulations apply to all work and workplaces covered by the WHS Act. The Code and Regulations cover employers, workers, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, the self-employed, apprentices and trainees, work experience students, and volunteers. The Code and Regulations also cover other people in workplaces, such as customers and visitors.

What are psychosocial hazards?

Psychosocial hazards are anything in the design or management of work that increases the risk of psychological or physical harm. Types of hazards include:

  • Poor organisational justice
  • Inadequate reward and recognition
  • Violence and aggression
  • Traumatic events
  • Bullying
  • Harassment, including sexual harassment
  • Remote and isolated work
  • Poor environmental conditions
  • Low job control
  • Poor support
  • Low role clarity
  • High/low job demand
  • Poor organisational change management
  • Poor workplace relationships including interpersonal conflict

How should I respond if a worker has an issue or makes a complaint?

PCBUs should:

  • act promptly
  • ensure immediate safety
  • treat all matters seriously
  • maintain confidentiality
  • be neutral
  • support all parties
  • not victimise
  • communicate process and outcomes
  • keep records, and
  • use a trauma-informed approach (e.g., being mindful that workplace systems recognise that workplace responses about psychosocial hazards can escalate or de-escalate distress in those with a history of trauma).

What do PCBU’s need to do to comply?

PCBUs must adopt a risk management process, including eliminating psychosocial risks, so far as is reasonably practicable, or if it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate psychosocial risks, by minimising them. PCBUs should follow a four-step risk management process to meet their health and safety obligations under the Code and Regulations:

  • Identify psychosocial hazards
  • Assess the risk
  • Control the risks
  • Review the controls

Need help with compliance?

Business 360 can assist in developing and implementing a mental health and wellbeing risk management policy for your business. Call us on 1300 287 360, email or if you prefer a confidential discussion with one of our directors, click or scan below to book a time to discuss your needs.