"Psychosocial hazard" is the name most commonly used for those hazards that can have an impact on the psychological health or mental or emotional wellbeing of a person.
Under the WHS Act, health is defined as both physical and psychological health. This means that the duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, health and safety extends to ensuring the emotional and mental health of workers.
As part of the risk management process, we need to ensure that the psychosocial hazards are given the same weight as physical hazards such as manual handling, chemicals or electricity.
What are psychosocial hazards?
Some of the psychosocial hazards that may exist at UTS and that all staff have an obligation under section 19 of the WHS Act to manage as far as reasonably practicable:
- work-related stress,
- bullying and harassment,
- lone or remote working,
- violence in the workplace (both from staff and students),
- fatigue, and
- alcohol and drug use.
Risks to psychological health at work may arise from organisational (i.e. work) or personal factors (i.e. outside of work), with the most common factors being the poor design of work and jobs, poor communication and interpersonal relationships, bullying, occupational violence and fatigue. Risks to psychological health due to work should be viewed in the same way as other health and safety risks.
UTS has a number of risk management processes that are used for managing H&S risks such as Online Risk Register (UTS Staff access only), H&S Plans (UTS Staff access only), and locally documented risk assessments. In conducting these risk assessments due consideration must be given to the psychosocial hazards that exist in the workplace and the activity. Risk assessment for psychosocial risks involves the same basic principles and processes as for other workplace hazards. Including workers and their representatives in the process is crucial to success. For example, when considering a noisy environment it is important to not only consider the effects that the noise levels may have from a physical extent e.g. potential damage to hearing/reduced ability to communicate but also what psychological effects that noise may have e.g. anxiety, increased stress levels etc. The risk of psychological injury must be considered as part of any risk assessment.
The effect of psychosocial hazards may vary from person to person and individual differences may mean that some workers are more susceptible to harm than others e.g. new and young workers, workers with illness etc. Including workers and their representatives in the risk management process is crucial to success.
- Wellbeing page on Staff Connect (UTS Staff access only)
- UTS Counselling Service
- Self-Help Resources
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) (UTS Staff access only)
- Equity and Diversity Unit
- Alcohol Hazard Information Page
- Comcare - Psychosocial hazards
- Comcare – Working Well – An organisational approach to preventing psychological injury (PDF, 410 Kb)
- SafeWork Australia: Preventing Psychological Injury under Work Health and Safety Laws Fact Sheet (PDF, 1273 Kb)
- SafeWork Australia – Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work Nov 2013 (PDF, 1118 Kb)
- SafeWork Australia – Dealing with Workplace Bullying – A workers Guide May 2016 (PDF, 317 Kb)
- SafeWork Australia - Bullying
- SafeWork Australia - Good work design
- SafeWork NSW: Violence in the Workplace (PDF, 183 Kb)
- Moodgym – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to assist with depression (free resource)
- Davo’s Man Therapy - Mantherapy.org.au