KEEPING THE WORKPLACE SAFE AND FREE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL HAZARDSJanuary 16, 2023
On the 24th December 2022 new Work Health and Safety regulations for the control of psychosocial hazards came into effect, making it illegal for employers to ignore risks and not work at minimising them as much as practicable to ensure a healthy and safe workplace environment.
While Western Australian businesses already had an obligation under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace the new regulations will help better equip them to identify, assess and eliminate such hazards. Worksafe have the role of enforcing these regulations through introducing new policies and procedures, educating employers and changing workplace infrastructure. Serious breach of the regulations could even result in termination and maximum fines up to $35, 000.
The McGowan Government now in line with other states, made the amendments accordingly, after last year’s report Respect@Work by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins and “Enough is Enough’’, the WA Parliamentary report into sexual harassment in the FIFO mining industry that provides 24 recommendations focusing on exposing the behaviours and directing change at company, industry and legislative levels.
With the mining industry making up 47% of WA economy, and recent reports of sexual misconduct claims not investigated by the Department of Mines and Worksafe due to compliance teams being understaffed, the new enforcements for the regulations are crucial for the health and safety of West Australians working in our largest and most profitable sector.
Workplace psychosocial hazards are related to the psychological and social conditions of the workplace and are now considered just as important as physical hazards. Some examples are fatigue, bullying and harassment, inadequate reward and recognition, job demands, lack of role clarity, poor support and violence and aggression. Being exposed to any or several of these and other factors often, or for a long period of time can result in psychological or physical harm. Psychological harm can include anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and post traumatic disorders, while physical harm may include musculoskeletal injuries, chronic disease or fatigue related injuries. Every individual reacts differently to psychosocial hazards and factors outside of the workplace can also contribute, things like age, level of training, health and social status.
The Commission for Occupational Health and Safety has released the Psychosocial hazards in the workplace code of practice to provide practical guidance for workplaces in the prevention and management of psychosocial hazards as well as information on reporting and responding to incidents and relevant legislation. It can be accessed by clicking on the link below. https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe/mentally-healthy-workplaces-codes-practice
For any advice or representation on this or other workplace matters please call Workclaims Australia today on 08 93010850