SafeWork NSW announces more compliance checks for psychological safety

Further regulation part of new workplace health, safety strategy

SafeWork NSW announces more compliance checks for psychological safety

SafeWork New South Wales is hiking regulatory action for large businesses as part of a new strategy to ensure they are fostering psychologically healthy and safe workplaces.

Trent Curtin, acting deputy secretary of SafeWork NSW, said large businesses and those at high risk of psychological injuries can expect compliance checks from the regulator.

"SafeWork NSW will issue improvement notices, prohibition notices or formal regulator warnings and may prosecute workplaces who repeatedly do not comply or where they have seriously breached WHS laws," Curtin said in a statement.

The increase in regulatory action from SafeWork NSW is part of the regulator's newly launched Psychological Health and Safety Strategy 2024-2026. The strategy outlines how the regulator will support businesses to manage their psychological hazards and comply with their legislative obligations.

"Our strategy launching today aims to strengthen mental health support in the workplace. To help take care of people who take care of us," said Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson in a statement.

Mental health support for small businesses

The strategy also includes $5.6-million funding over the next two years for workplace mental health programmes for small and medium businesses.

NSW is home to roughly 850,000 small businesses, which employ about 43% of the state's private sector workforce. These small businesses are less likely to have the resources and capability to manage mental health and protect employee's psychological health, according to the state government.

"The NSW Labor Government is focused on delivering a safer workplace and to do this we must work hand-in-hand with businesses to ensure we are providing the right programmes and advice to protect workers and businesses," said Small Business Minister Steve Kamper in a statement.

Fostering psychologically safe workplaces

In Australia, workplace mental ill health is estimated to cost businesses up to $39 annually due to lost participation and productivity.

Curtin said among the advantages of psychologically healthy and safe workplaces is the reduction of these business costs.

"These include costs associated with absenteeism and presenteeism, where staff are away from work and where staff are attending work under stress or experiencing mental health issues," he said.

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