Importance of a safe workplace, free from physical and psychological harm

Today is World Mental Health Day 2023, providing a crucial platform for individuals and communities worldwide to rally together under the banner of ‘mental health as a universal human right’. This occasion serves as a reminder to encourage greater understanding, heightened awareness and the implementation of initiatives aimed at advancing and safeguarding the mental wellbeing of workers and employers. 

Managing psychosocial hazards at work not only protects workers, but also benefits businesses by improving organisational performance and productivity. 

In 2020-21, mental health conditions accounted for 9% of all serious workers’ compensation claims in Australia, a 55.6% increase since 2016-17. On average, work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs and require more time away from work. 

Identifying psychosocial hazards in the workplace

Psychosocial hazards cause harm through creating stress. While stress itself is not an injury, if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe, stress can cause psychological and physical harm. 

Psychosocial hazards at work may include: 

  • Job demands 
  • Low job control 
  • Poor support 
  • Lack of role clarity 
  • Poor organisational change management 
  • Inadequate reward and recognition 
  • Poor organisational justice 
  • Traumatic events or material 
  • Remote or isolated work 
  • Poor physical environment 
  • Violence and aggression 
  • Bullying 
  • Harassment, including sexual harassment 
  • Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions.

Psychological harm or injuries from psychosocial hazards include conditions such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and sleep disorders. Psychosocial hazards can also lead to physical injuries, including musculoskeletal injury, chronic disease and injury following fatigue-related workplace incidents. 

Managing psychosocial hazards

As with any health and safety risk at work, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) such as employers have a primary duty to eliminate or minimise psychosocial risks so far as is reasonably practicable. It is important to consult with workers who may be directly affected by particular psychosocial hazards and their health and safety representatives throughout this process. 

Safe Work Month

October is National Safe Work Month. This year’s theme is ‘for everyone’s safety, work safely’. This includes working together to protect workers’ mental health. 

Our qualified Workplace Health and Safety experts provide cost-effective solutions to manage your WHS needs, reduce the risk to your workers and help you meet WA’s WHS laws. Email [email protected] or call (08) 9365 7746 or join our free webinars in October.

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