Western Australia brings in regulations around psychosocial risks

'Psychosocial hazards are just as important as physical hazards and must be dealt with in the workplace'

Western Australia brings in regulations around psychosocial risks

It is now illegal for Western Australia employers to not deal with psychosocial risks in the workplace.

This follows the implementation of the amended work health and safety regulations developed by Safe Work Australia for mines and general workplaces in the state.

The regulations deal with the "identification of psychosocial risks and the appropriate control measures to manage those risks," according to the government.

"The regulations will help industry to better understand the requirements for managing psychosocial hazards and will also ensure that the regulator — in the form of WorkSafe inspectors — can enforce those requirements," said Industrial Relations Minister Bill Johnston.

Under the amended regulations, employers are mandated to eliminate or minimise as much as possible psychosocial risks in the workplace and put them on the same pedestal as physical hazards such as falling or operating machinery.

"Psychosocial hazards are just as important as physical hazards and must be dealt with in the workplace, so it's an important step to have regulations specifically covering mental health issues," Johnston said.

The regulations are part of the government's response to the "Enough is Enough, sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry," which called on employers to actively address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The government previously appointed Elizabeth Shaw, a PwC workplace culture expert, to review the protocols of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.

Psychosocial hazards

Psychosocial hazards in the workplace are related to the "psychological and social conditions of the workplace," according to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation, and Safety.

"These include stress, fatigue, bullying, violence, aggression, harassment and burnout, which can be harmful to the health of workers and compromise their wellbeing," the department said on its website.

"There are also risk factors (e.g., misuse of alcohol or other drugs, poor change management) that increase the risk or potential for harm to health from exposure to a hazard."

The Commission for Occupational Health and Safety previously released various codes of practice to provide guidance on the laws, including the Code of practice - Psychosocial hazards in the workplace, which should be present in every WA workplace, according to Johnston.

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