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The Thinking Cap


Psychosocial Risk Management

Article prepared: 18 July 2013

Are there hazards in your work environment that may affect your employees’ psychological wellbeing? Do you need to do anything about them?

Workplace health and safety laws under the harmonised legislation are giving greater prominence to psychological risk factors at work. The primary duty contained in the Work Health and Safety Act requires employers to eliminate or minimise risks to psychological health so far as is reasonably practicable.

Psychological injury is an injury to mental well-being and/or a loss of cognitive function. Typical examples include depression and anxiety. Evidence from Comcare shows that claims resulting from psychological injury are considerably higher than other injuries. These costs are both direct – such as medical expenses and compensation claims, and indirect – costs arising from absenteeism and reduced productivity.

Managing psychological risk is clearly important from a legislative and financial perspective. So what are psychosocial hazards that may contribute to psychological injury and how do you manage them?

What are psychosocial hazards?

Psychosocial hazards are aspects of the work environment and the way that work is organised that are associated with psychological and/or physical injury or illness. Examples of psychosocial hazards may include job content, workload, and work schedule. For example, an employee with a high workload and pending deadlines may experience increased levels of stress, which can have various negative effects as outlined below.

What is the impact of psychosocial hazards?

When psychosocial risk factors are not effectively managed they can negatively impact at both the personal and organisational level.

At the personal level, psychosocial hazards may result in:

  • Loss of concentration
  • Poor decision making
  • At-risk behaviours
  • Depression / anxiety
  • Reduced productivity

At an organisational level, psychosocial hazards may result in:

  • Increased workers’ compensation
  • Absenteeism
  • Increased litigation
  • Decline of organisational and/or safety culture
  • Turnover
  • Morale

What are the benefits of managing psychosocial risk?

It follows logically that there are substantial benefits to both individuals and employers that arise from eliminating and preventing workplace stress. These include higher rates of productivity, reduced workers’ compensation claims and increased employee morale and job satisfaction.

How PSB Solutions helps organisations to identify and manage psychosocial risks

PSB Solutions promotes a consultative approach to psychosocial risk management that incorporates hazard identification and control measure frameworks with a focus on contributing organisational and personal wellbeing factors.

We extend our framework to include a focus on selection and induction processes, leadership behaviours, policy reviews, training, performance management, and monitoring of organisational health via our Workforce Climate Indicator and Safety Climate surveys.

If you would like to know more about our approach to Psychosocial Risk Management, give us a call on (08) 6272 3900 or email us.

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