Queensland introduces protocols to manage psychological risks in the workplace

The state also introduces a new code to minimise silica dust exposure

Queensland introduces protocols to manage psychological risks in the workplace

The Queensland government has introduced new codes of practice that aim to protect employees' psychological wellbeing and address silica dust exposure in the workplace. The Managing the Risk of Psychosocial Hazards at Work Code of Practice is a 67-page document detailing how to minimise psychosocial hazards at work.

"The legally enforceable psychosocial code of practice and regulations will directly address psychological health risks at work, which can be anything from exposure to traumatic events to remote or isolated working," Industrial Minister Grace Grace said.

Grace added that the code also serves as a practical guide to assist employers and workers to understand their rights and responsibilities, after a national review found that employers were "unsure of their duties" in managing psychological risks.

Recent research found that employers lose an estimated $11 billion from psychological health hazards, shedding light on the importance of investing in workplace safety sooner rather than later.

"Research has shown that workers benefit from psychologically healthy workplaces through better individual health, increased job satisfaction, commitment, positive attitudes toward self-development, and lower rates of work-related physical injuries," Grace said.

The code of practice will officially launch on April 1, 2023, having been lauded by psychology experts.

"I am so very pleased that this code has now been developed. This is a truly watershed moment," said Dr. Kirsten Way, an organisational psychology expert at the University of Queensland.

Code of Practice on Silica Exposure

Meanwhile, the government also introduced the Managing Respirable Crystalline Silica Dust Exposure in Construction and the Manufacturing of Construction Elements Code of Practice, which will commence on May 1, 2023. Grace said the new protocols will set out effective dust controls in the construction industry to prevent or minimise employees' exposure.

According to Grace, the code of practice was developed following consultation with academics, unions, employer organisations, and the community.

"The need to protect workers from silicosis in other industries, particularly construction, became clear while Queensland's nation-leading stone benchtop code was being developed in 2019," she said.

Before the codes commence next year, Grace said the Office of Industrial Relations will work with the industry to launch educational sessions on them.

Queensland follows New South Wales in introducing measures to prevent employees' silica exposure in the workplace. The federal government early this year also announced an $11-million investment to enact the key recommendations of the National Dust Disease Taskforce for the prevention, control, and management of dust diseases in Australia.

The taskforce's report found that almost a quarter of engineered stone workers who joined the industry before 2018 suffer from silicosis or other silica dust-related illnesses. Workers in the construction, tunnelling, mining, and quarrying industries are affected by the diseases.

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