The Victorian government’s Psychological Health regulations are now in the final stages of consultation and likely to be introduced from 1 July 2022.
With psychological injuries rising steadily, and expected to comprise a third of workers compensation claims by 2030, the proposed amendments to the OHS Act are designed to promote the importance of psychological health and safety in the workplace. In particular, they aim to clarify the duty of care and requirements of employers when it comes to managing psychological risks in the workplace.
What will be required of employers?
Under the proposed amendments to the OHS Act, hazards or risks to the psychological health of employees will need to be managed in a similar way to physical hazards. That means that these risks will need to be identified, assessed, eliminated, or reduced where practical, and actively managed.
Specifically, it is expected that employers will be required to:
Develop and document risk management and prevention plans for psychosocial hazards.
Consult with employees.
Review and revise risk control measures in certain circumstances.
Provide the documented risk management and prevention plan to a WorkSafe Inspector on request.
Report complaints of bullying, sexual harassment, aggression and violence to WorkSafe periodically.
WorkSafe is developing a psychological health compliance code to help employers meet their duties. It will provide guidance on how to identify and manage risks.
As with other requirements under the OHS Act, WorkSafe will have the power to issue Prohibition and Improvement notices, along with penalties of up to $54,000 to employers who fail to comply.
What constitutes a psychological hazard or risk?
The regulations are designed to provide employers with a clear understanding of their obligations when it comes to 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 injury such as high job demands, exposure to traumatic events or content, isolation or remote work, lack of support and poor workplace relationships.
The amendments will include definitions of what constitutes a psychological hazard to help guide employers in identifying and managing risks. The proposed amendments can be accessed and commented on through Engage Victoria.
Preparing for the introduction of the Psychological Health regulations
It is expected that employers will be given sufficient time to adjust to the new regulations. However it is advisable to begin preparing for their introduction now. To do this we suggest:
Downloading and reviewing the proposed regulations.
Reviewing existing Safety Management Systems and Policies to assess the extent to which they address psychological hazards in the workplace.
Undertaking a psychological health risk assessment and audit, to identify risks.
Updating existing Safety Management Systems and Policies to ensure compliance with the new regulations.
As safety management specialists, Risk Strategies consultants are well placed to assist you with understanding how the proposed amendments will impact your organisation and to put in place the necessary measures to ensure compliance.
For more information about the proposed amendments, see: