Consulting Workers and Other Duty Holders about Psychosocial Hazards

Weekly WHS Article 16th May 2022

Must Consult Workers

Yes, a PCBU must consult workers about psychosocial hazards (see section 47 NSW WHS Act). The WHS Act defines ‘health’ as; “health means physical and psychological health”.


The SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work, at page 15 tells us that;


“A PCBU must consult, at each step of the risk management process, workers who carry out work for them and who are or likely to be affected by a matter and their HSR(s). Consultation should occur as early as possible on:

  • new policies, procedures and systems of work

  • organisational restructures, new reporting arrangements and work locations

  • changes to tasks, duties, and working arrangements, including rosters

  • new technology, plant, equipment and production processes, or

  • the redesign of existing workplaces.

The Consultation Process

The consultation processes should suit the organisation’s needs and the reasonable needs and expectations of affected workers and take reasonable steps where required to respect an individual’s privacy and confidentiality. It should provide workers with:

  • clear, timely information on how psychosocial hazards and risks will be proactively identified, managed and monitored, and

  • how work can be safely carried out.

Workers generally know which aspects of the work are creating or likely to create hazards or risks and may have practical suggestions on how to manage these. The PCBU must consult affected workers and their HSR(s) when identifying psychosocial hazards and risks and throughout the risk management process. For example, this can be done through consultative forums, workplace surveys, health and safety committee meetings, and routine or dedicated project meetings between worker(s) and their supervisor.

By talking to your workers and asking about their experience of psychosocial hazards, you can also decide if they may need some additional support so they can do their work safely and effectively.”

Consulting Other Duty Holders The WHS Act requires that where more than one person has a duty for the same matter, each person retains responsibility for their duty in relation to the matter and must discharge the duty to the extent to which they can influence and control the matter (sections 16 and 46 WHS Act).

For example, this requirement applies to PCBUs in a supply chain. At page 16 of the Code of Practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work, it says;

“A supply chain is a contractual network between an organisation and its suppliers or between agencies to produce and distribute a specific product or provide a service. WHS risks may result from supply chain arrangements, practices, or shared systems. Each PCBU in the supply chain must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all workers that they engage, cause to engage, influence or direct; and must consult all workers that carry out work for them on WHS issues.

PCBUs must talk with suppliers, those commissioning their services, or sharing systems to understand each other’s needs and identify common psychosocial hazards, risks and controls, and opportunities to improve the health and safety of all workers and other persons affected by the activities in the supply chain. For further advice, see the Code of Practice Work Health and Safety Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination.”


Note

The quotations from the, Code of Practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work, are the copyright work of the owner, the Department of Customer Service, State of NSW and is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. For more information visit www.nsw.gov.au/copyright.



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16th May 2022

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