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Mental Health Hazard Risk Register

Version 1.0 Updated 30 Jan 2024
Forms & Checklists Manage

Commentary

The Risk Register is designed to help businesses conduct a psychosocial risk assessment.

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 Risk Register addresses each part of the psychosocial risk management process. The accompanying instructions also include an “assessment scale” to help you form a view about the seriousness of each risk by reference to the severity, duration and frequency of exposure to the hazard.

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.

Psychosocial hazards can also interact or combine to increase risks in the workplace. For example, a worker exposed to an aggressive customer that is not equipped with adequate support from their supervisors may expose that worker to an increased risk of harm.

To keep you focused on task, “psychosocial hazards” are described as “mental health hazards” in the Risk Register.

How to use the Risk Register

Completing the document

The Risk Register consists of six sections that address the essential components required to meet your primary duty of care (i.e. identify, assess, control and review). To complete each section for the first time, read and follow the instructions on the first page of the Risk Register.

Importantly, once completed, the Risk Register must be reviewed and updated each time an incident involving a mental health hazard (i.e. a psychosocial hazard) occurs or is reported. This means:

  • If the hazard is already listed on the Risk Register: re-assess the exposure to risk, re-consider the hazard’s interaction with other hazards and review the plan to lower risk. Update the Risk Register accordingly.
  • If the hazard is newly identified: add it to the Risk Register and complete the balance of the entry (i.e. assessment, interaction, plan to lower risk, action and review).

 

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 provide invaluable insight in relation to hazard identification and risk management.        

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

Managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace is an ongoing duty. Ensure that the Risk Register is maintained, updated as needed and regularly reviewed.

For example, if at any time a control measure (i.e. your plan to lower risk in response to a hazard) is observed to be ineffective, you must identify additional and/or alternative control measures and update the Risk Register.

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