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Risk Management in The Workplace: How Important It Is To Identify The Risk First, and What Employers

The Victorian Government proposed an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations which holds a significant compliance obligation for employers to identify, manage and prevent risks to the employees' mental health.

The regulations are designed to provide employers with a clear understanding of their obligations regarding managing psychological risks and hazards.

The intention is to protect employees from sexual harassment, bullying, violence, aggression and other factors that can lead to psychological injuries such as high job demands, exposure to traumatic events or content, isolation or remote work, lack of support and poor workplace

relationships.

The proposed regulations seek to give employers more clarity in their obligations to protect workers from risks to mental health and put an equal chance with physical hazards, which can harm employees' safety and well-being. One of the most critical proposed changes requires employers to identify and control risks posed by the psychosocial hazard factors in work design, the system of work, management of work, carrying out the job, and personal or work-related interactions.

But why is it essential to identify the risk first, and what can employers do to control it?

Below is a list of the common psychosocial hazards you need to consider when identifying psychosocial risks in your organisation.


Workers are likely exposed to psychosocial hazards; some

risks may constantly be present, while others arise occasionally. Some hazards may cause serious harm, like experiencing workplace violence. In most situations, it will be a combination of psychosocial risks that may cause injury.

Harm may be caused by a single instance or over time with repeated or continuous exposure. Psychological hazards can be grouped or described in different ways. Though, how they are categorised is less important than ensuring you and your workers have the same understanding of what is happening and how it may be causing harm.

Common psychosocial hazards at work include:

  • job demands

  • low job control

  • poor support

  • lack of role clarity

  • poor organisational change management

  • inadequate reward and recognition

  • poor organisational justice

  • traumatic events or material

  • remote or isolated work

  • poor physical environment

  • violence and aggression

  • bullying

  • harassment, including sexual harassment, and

  • conflict or poor workplace relationships and

  • interactions

Identifying work-related psychosocial hazards is the first step in the risk management process.

It involves identifying the aspects of the work and situations that could potentially affect you, your workers or others at your workplace and why these may occur. It may include workload, leadership and culture, social factors and how the work is organised. This step should also assist PCBUs in identifying when and where workers are exposed to psychosocial hazards and if controls sufficiently eliminate or minimise risks from known hazards.

Consulting your workers will assist you in identifying any groups at risk, and whether there are additional reasonably practicable controls, you must implement to eliminate or minimise the troubles for these workers.

Risks must be identified before they can be managed. Psychosocial risk management should be a proactive process. All risks, no matter how small, should still be accounted for in risk assessments.

Psychosocial hazards and factors can be identified by:

  • Having conversations with the workers, supervisors, and health and safety specialists

  • Inspect the workplace to see how work is carried out

  • Observe how people interact with each other at wor