SafeWork NSW

SafeWork NSW releases new strategy to address psychosocial hazards

Victoria Quayle ||

Co-authored by Chloe Ferreira

On 22 May 2024 SafeWork NSW introduced a new strategy to address psychological and psychosocial hazards. The SafeWork NSW Psychological Health and Safety Strategy 2024-2026 establishes new supports for employers regarding their duties in preventing psychosocial harm in the workplace.

Common psychosocial hazards include role overload, bullying, sexual harassment, lack of role clarity, exposure to traumatic events and hazardous physical working environments.

Targeted towards small to medium businesses, the strategy is backed by $5.6 million of support over the next two years, focusing on delivering mental health programs. It follows the independent review of SafeWork (February 2024) which highlighted the need to prioritise psychosocial health and safety.

Larger employers also need to prepare for increased regulatory action by SafeWork, including compliance site visits for those who employ 200 or more employees. SafeWork NSW inspector visits are expected to increase by 25% to ensure workplaces are adopting a preventative and proactive approach to psychological health and safety, rather than focusing on incidents after they have occurred. It is likely that this scrutiny will extend to HR practices including performance and misconduct management practices.

New initiatives as part of the strategy include:

  • resources, webinars and tools to support businesses;
  • translation of resources to support culturally and linguistically diverse workers who have been identified as high risk for psychological injuries;
  • compliance visits across high-risk workplaces; and,
  • creation of industry forums targeted at identifying the relevant psychological and psychosocial hazards.
Key takeaways

Employers based in NSW must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and duties outlined in the state WHS legislation. In general terms, all employers should:

  • ensure policies and procedures to deal with potential risks are carefully drafted, regularly reviewed and consistently enforced;
  • review HR practices (e.g. performance, misconduct and grievance handling processes) from a safety perspective. Take a wholistic approach to HR practices to consider how these relate to your work health safety obligations;
  • implement training including regular refresher training on how to safely perform tasks; and,
  • regularly review control measures in place to ensure they are effective.

For more information or to discuss how SafeWork NSW’s new strategy to address psychosocial hazards may impact your business, please contact Coleman Greig’s Employment Law & WHS team.

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