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Mental Health Hazard Risk Identifier

Version 1.0 Updated 30 Jan 2024
Forms & Checklists Manage

Commentary

The Mental Health Hazard Identifier is designed to help businesses identify the “psychosocial hazards” in their workplace.

Background

Primary duty of care 

Under work health and safety law, businesses are required to take proactive steps to manage risks to psychological health in their business. This forms part of the primary duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and others.

There are four essential components to meeting this duty:

1.       identify the psychosocial hazards;

2.       assess the risks;

3.       implement and maintain control measures; and

4.       review the control measures.

The Mental Health Hazard Identifier is focused on the first component: identification of psychosocial hazards.

What is a psychosocial hazard?

This is a technical term to describe a very common group of hazards that can cause psychological harm. A psychosocial hazard arises from or relates to four features of every business:

  • the way work is managed or designed;
  • the work environment;
  • the equipment; and
  • workplace interactions and behaviours.

 

Psychosocial hazards are best understood by reference to examples, with the most common including:

  • high or low workload;
  • working remotely;    
  • sexual harassment;
  • aggression;    
  • low job control;
  • poor support from colleagues or supervisors;         
  • role confusion;
  • low recognition;        
  • bullying;        
  • workplace conflicts; and
  • poor change management.

 

Each of these common psychosocial hazards capture a broad range of hazards, which may take different forms in each workplace. It is also possible that some of those examples may not impact a business at all.

To keep you focused on task, “psychosocial hazards” are described as “mental health hazards” in the Mental Health Hazard Identifier.

How to use the Mental Health Hazard Identifier

Completing the document

The Mental Health Hazard Identifier provides you with a template to complete four “checks” to identify the psychosocial hazards throughout your business.

Those four checks are as follows:

1.       common mental health hazard check;

2.       vulnerable worker check;

3.       observation check; and

4.       data & records check.

To complete the document, simply read the instructions, consider the prompts and fill out as applicable to your business. The aim is to identify as many psychosocial hazards as you can. Please note, there is no ‘perfect’ way to describe a hazard. You might use a few words or maybe you prefer to write in sentences: both are acceptable. If you think something might cause harm to mental health – jot it down.

Subject to the size and nature of your business, you may need to complete the four checks in the Mental Health Hazard Identifier for each division or section of your business (e.g. complete the document separately for office workers, factory workers and remote workers).

Consultation

Businesses have an obligation to consult with their workers in relation to psychosocial risk management. As you take steps to complete the document, we recommend that you engage in conversations with your workers or otherwise seek their feedback. They can help you identify additional hazards. 

Record Keeping

Businesses need to be able to show the safety regulator that they are satisfying their obligations when it comes to psychosocial risk management.

Keep this document with your work health and safety records. It is a record of a proactive step your business has taken in relation to psychosocial risk management. 

Next Steps and Related Resources

Once you have identified the psychosocial hazards in your workplace, you will need to assess and manage the risks arising from those hazards. The Risk Register is designed to help you with that next stage of the psychosocial risk management.

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