New workplace laws – psychosocial risks

In August, we prepared an update on the new model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work, and explained why retailers should take note of the new Code.

Since this update, NSW and QLD have introduced new workplace laws detailing employer duties to identify, prevent, and manage psychosocial risks. Similar laws are pending in VIC and are due to commence in early 2023.

What are psychosocial hazards and risks?

A psychosocial hazard is something that arises from or relates to –

  • how the work is designed or managed
  • the work environment
  • equipment at the workplace
  • workplace interactions or behaviours

A psychosocial risk is a risk to the health or safety of a worker or other person from a psychosocial hazard.

What are examples of psychosocial risks in a retail work environment?

  • Customer misbehaviour, including aggression, violence, and sexual harassment
  • High job demand – work pressure, and workload
  • Low job demand – repetitive or monotonous tasks

What is required of retail employers under these new laws?

The new Regulations require those who conduct a business or undertaking to

  1. Identify reasonably foreseeable psychosocial hazards that could present a risk to workers’ health and safety;
  2. Identify and implement suitable controls to manage the risks associated with psychosocial hazards

When deciding on the risk controls, you must have regard to all relevant matters, including:

  • the level of exposure of workers and others to psychosocial hazards;
  • how the psychosocial hazards may interact or combine;
  • the design and systems of work, including job demands and management of work;
  • the design and layout, and environmental conditions, of the workplace;
  • workplace interactions or behaviours; and
  • the information, training, instruction and supervision provided to workers.

 

When do the new rules take effect?

  • NSW’s new regulation on Psychosocial Risks amends the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 commenced on 1 October 2022.

 

  • Queensland’s new regulation on Psychosocial Risks will amend the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and commences on 1 April 2023.

Is there guidance material available to help us manage psychosocial hazards and risks?

Yes, as explained in our August article, the model Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work provides you with practical guidance on how to meet your duty of care in regard to the management of psychosocial hazards in your workplace.

NSW has its own Code of Practice: Managing psychosocial hazards at work.

Disclaimer: The material within this update is provided for general information and educational purposes in summary form on topics that are current when it is first published. The content does not constitute legal advice or recommendations and should not be relied upon as such.

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