New national Work Health and Safety Regulations aim to strengthen and clarify how to manage psychological health risks in the workplace.
While these regulations prescribe how employers should identify psychosocial hazards and manage risk, everyone has a role to play in creating and maintaining a safe and healthy psychological workplace.
“A mentally healthy workplace is one that addresses psychosocial hazards and supports the recovery of workers returning to work after a physical or psychological injury,” says Renee Thornton, CEO of Rehab Management, a rehabilitation provider.
Data shows there is a noticeable difference on how people are treated on returning to work from a psychological injury compared with a physical injury.
The new regulations define ‘psychosocial hazard’ and ‘psychosocial risk’ and identify matters that employers should consider in managing risks.
A psychosocial hazard refers to any factor or situation in the workplace that may pose a risk to an employee’s mental or emotional wellbeing. This can include aspects of job design, workplace relationships, communication, leadership, workloads, and organisational culture.
These hazards can arise from various sources, such as work-related stress, bullying or harassment, violence, or exposure to traumatic events.
Renee Thornton outlines 6 tips to ensure a psychologically healthy workplace:
- Regular risk assessments: should include evaluation of workload, communication, support, relationships and other psychosocial factors that could affect workers’ wellbeing. Staff feedback should be taken into account when developing strategies to mitigate identified risks.
- Clear policies and procedures: should cover issues such as bullying and harassment, stress management, and workplace conflict resolution. The policies should be communicated to all employees and easily accessible.
- Training and education: training and education should be provided to staff on how to manage psychosocial hazards and injuries in the workplace. This can include stress management techniques, conflict resolution skills, and communication skills.
- Positive work culture: is one that promotes open communication, mutual respect, and support. This can be achieved through regular feedback, recognition of staff achievements, and employee wellness programs.
- Early reporting and intervention: staff should be encouraged to report any psychosocial hazards or injuries as soon as possible, and interventions should occur early to address any issues before they escalate. This can include providing support to staff experiencing workplace stress or conflict, or making provisions or flexibility for those with physical or psychological limitations.
- Culture of safety: fostered by implementing policies and procedures that prioritise staff health and safety. This can include regular safety training and communication, risk assessments, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of workplace hazards.
Rehab Management supports employers to ensure they have best practice programs and interventions to foster the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of their employees.