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Reporting Processes Must Include Psychosocial Hazards

Weekly WHS Article 10th August 2023



Processes for reporting work health and safety hazards and incidents are integral to the Safety Management System for every business and undertaking. It is expected that if a staff member or visitor or customer was to become injured or suffer a medical episode at the workplace, processes would spring to action, with each person involved taking their role to shield the hazard and provide the appropriate care to the person in that situation. Directors and Managers are quickly informed. First Aiders would be on hand to help in the immediate situation, and the afflicted person’s health and safety representative would be there to document the incident for later investigation. Responding to an incident should be like a well-rehearsed drill.


Assuming there are procedures established and in use, the success or failure of such procedures rest with the Officers of a business or undertaking. They must exercise due diligence to ensure that the PCBU complies with their obligations. In the matter of health and safety Officers must take reasonable steps which include:

  1. “maintaining up-to-date knowledge of work health and safety matters as they apply to your specific operation

  2. understand the nature of the business and its hazards and risks

  3. ensuring the business has, and uses, appropriate resources and processes to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety associated with the operations of the business or undertaking

  4. ensuring the business or undertaking has appropriate processes to receive information about incidents, hazards and risks, and can respond to that information in a timely manner

  5. ensuring the business has processes – and implements those process – to comply with any WHS obligation

  6. Verifying that these steps have been carried out” (see Ref 1)

In October 2022, the NSW WHS Regulation was amended to include “psychosocial hazards and risks” to be managed in the same way as any other hazards or risks in the workplace. The management of these non physical risks is fully the duty of the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU). The Officers must exercise “due diligence” to ensure that the PCBU complies with their obligations.

Managers, supervisors, and workers need to be able to recognise any psychosocial hazard and risk in their workplace, what they should do, and how to report it. There are 16 common psychosocial hazards and numerous examples in the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work.

For some businesses this may mean a review of its hazard reporting processes is required and perhaps some update of its WHS management system. Under the general obligation of “due diligence” it is the responsibility of the Officers of the business to take reasonable steps to ensure what needs to be done is done.

In point 4 above - ensuring the business or undertaking has appropriate processes to receive information about incidents, hazards and risks, and can respond to that information in a timely manner - the introduction of this new information may require some education of staff so they are aware of what psychosocial hazards are, and this includes management persons and Health & Safety Representatives.

Staff need to be able to feel safe in recognizing and reporting psychosocial hazards and risks. There may be instances in some businesses where management themselves are the worst offenders. In such workplaces trying to implement a general awareness of and improvement and respect of psychosocial hazards may fall short due to the toxic work environment already in place. Regardless, the law is the law and Officers have their duty. Change has to start from the top.

In keeping with the 6 points above, an Officer would do well to:

  • Review the new amendments to the WHS Regulation (Clauses 55a – 55d)

  • Read the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work

  • Begin discussions with managers and staff

  • Propose training and education initiatives for managers and staff so that they can recognise psychosocial hazards

  • Consult on how to amend existing incident reporting procedures to include psychosocial hazards and incidents

  • Campaign to stamp out acceptance of conduct and conditions that breed psychological harm.

  • Make it OK for workers to report psychosocial hazards

  • Act appropriately and fairly on reports of psychosocial incidents.

  • Prove to staff that it is worth it for them to report these and that something good can come about it.





Reference Ref 1. https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/legal-obligations/employer-business-obligations/due-diligence





Reporting Processes Must Include Psychosocial Hazards
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10th August 2023








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