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First code of practice for psychosocial hazards

SafeWork NSW has released its Code of Practice for Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work.

As the first specific code of practice in Australia on the issue of psychosocial hazards, the Code provides practical examples of how to identify and control a wide range of potential working environments that can cause or exacerbate psychosocial injuries – known as psychosocial hazards.

Psychosocial hazards – which extend from the way work is designed, arranged and supervised to hazards such as job uncertainty or exposure to significant trauma as part of the job – can lead to stress and/or a debilitating mental health condition.

The importance of the Code cannot be understated. It is a Code that will apply to all workplaces, no matter what size or location, and should be read and understood by all business owners. As a gazetted Code, it is a requirement in NSW that all businesses comply with the steps it sets out, which are taken to be evidence of reasonably practicable steps available to a duty-holder. The Code provides user-friendly examples of how different types of organisations might approach psychosocial hazards in their business.

Importantly, the Code states that a duty-holder must ensure that when an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct or harmful workplace behaviours is undertaken, those tasked with undertaking the investigation are “competent and are able to identify psychosocial hazards, sources of risk and root causes, assess the risk and recommend appropriate preventative and early intervention controls…”.

For many organisations, this obligation may require upskilling current WHS/HR personnel or the engagement of external consultants with relevant qualifications.

And finally, the Code represents an opportunity for an organisation to audit its own approach to managing psychosocial hazards, with a view to closing any gap in the effectiveness of that approach. In other words, to undertake a ‘mental health check’ and implement a staged plan to improve the mental health of all workers in the business.

Click here for more information and to download the Code.

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