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New standards document to help manage workplace psychosocial risk
share: Updated:2023-09-12 00:00:00

To support organisations in managing psychosocial hazards and risks in the workplace, Standards Australia has released its latest occupational health and safety document.

Its launch follows the recent release of a NSW Government repor, which identifies the risk of psychosocial harm in Australian workplaces as "high and increasing”.

Psychosocial hazards can have a significant impact on an individual’s health and well-being, with negative outcomes ranging from poor health and associated conditions to poor health behaviours, reduced job satisfaction, commitment, and productivity.

Standards Australia’s document - AS/NZS ISO 45003:2021 - is the second Standard released from the ISO 45001* series on occupational health and safety management systems, specifically providing additional guidance on psychosocial risks.

It is designed to aid those already using the principles of AS/NZ ISO 45001, to align the management of psychosocial risks with their existing OH&S system, with the aim to make approaches to safety management more robust and comprehensive.

The document includes practical guidance on managing psychosocial hazards, including examples and potential control measures, and highlights the need for organisations to understand how psychosocial hazards interact with other hazards in the workplace.

It also underscores the importance of managing psychosocial risks in return-to-work scenarios and clarifies the relevance of these risks to a range of other workplace issues, including supply chains and emergency management.

In addition to the potential impacts on an individual’s health and wellbeing, psychosocial hazards can have negative impacts on an organisation more broadly. These include increased costs due to absence from work, increased turnover, reduced product or service quality, recruitment and training, workplace investigations and litigation, and reputational damage.

Regulation and compliance

AS/NZS ISO 45003:2021 is a companion document to provide useful guidance to organisations, it is voluntary and does not replace legal or other requirements which prescribe what a duty holder must do with respect to psychosocial risks in the workplace.

Laws that govern occupational health and safety (OH&S) in Australia are made by the relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. OH&S duties may also be dealt with under other laws. Several Australian work health and safety regulators have produced jurisdictional specific codes of practice on psychosocial risks at work.

While the document provides guidance on best practice and is a useful tool to assist in managing psychosocial risks in the workplace, meeting its requirements does not make users automatically compliant with the law.

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