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SafeWork NSW announces psychosocial hazard blitz on large employers

04 June 2024

3 min read

#Workplace Relations & Safety

Published by:

Annelise Harper

SafeWork NSW announces psychosocial hazard blitz on large employers

If you are a large business operating in New South Wales with 200 or more employees, then SafeWork NSW may target you in the next 12 months as it implements a strategy to ensure compliance with the new psychosocial hazard laws.

On 22 May 2024, SafeWork NSW released its Psychosocial Health and Safety Strategy 2024–2026 (Strategy). Under the Strategy, SafeWork NSW has stated that it will increase regulatory action against high-risk and large businesses, as well as government agencies.

More specifically, SafeWork inspectors will conduct ‘psychosocial WHS checks’ when visiting a workplace with 200 or more employees. Employers that fail to comply with their work health and safety (WHS) duties will face regulatory action and a potential WHS prosecution in the case of a serious or repeated breach.

It is essential that large businesses are prepared for these inspections.

What is a psychosocial hazard?

A psychosocial hazard is an aspect of the work environment that may induce a stress response in a worker or other person, leading to psychological or physical harm. Psychosocial hazards may arise from:

  • the design or management of work
  • the requirement to undertake tasks involving an inherent psychosocial hazard or risk
  • the requirement to perform tasks in a physically hazardous environment
  • social factors such as workplace interactions or behaviours.

Common psychological hazards include work overload, bullying, harassment, lack of role clarity and exposure to traumatic events.

What are the duties of an employer?

Under WHS laws, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have a positive duty to manage psychosocial risks within their workplace. To discharge its duty, a PCBU must implement control measures that eliminate the psychosocial risk, or where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimise the psychosocial risk so far as reasonably practicable.

In light of the Strategy, it is essential that PCBUs review the effectiveness of the current control measures in place to manage psychosocial risks and assess that against the controls recommended in the SafeWork NSW code of practice, Managing psychosocial hazards at work. In assessing what control measures to implement, a PCBU should consider the:

  • duration, frequency and severity of a worker’s exposure to a psychological hazard
  • potential interaction or combination of several psychological hazards
  • design of the work, including the demands of the job
  • systems in place to manage, organise and support work
  • design, layout and environmental conditions within the workplace
  • plant, substances and structures at the workplace
  • interactions and behaviours in the workplace
  • information, training, instruction and supervision of workers.

See our earlier articles on how to protect your staff from psychosocial hazards and legislative changes in other states and territories for more information. If you have any questions on managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace, please get in touch with a member of our team below.

This article was originally published in the Health & Safety Handbook by Tanda.

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

Published by:

Annelise Harper

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