Mental (psychological) health, just like physical health, is an important part of work health and safety (WHS).  

Work-related psychological injuries (mental illness) have a significant impact on workers, their families and business. These injuries may result in longer time away from work and cost more than other injuries.  

The causes of these injuries are known as psychosocial hazards. 

Under the model WHS laws, a person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risk of psychosocial hazards in the workplace. 

WHS duties  

Work health and safety (WHS) duties apply equally to psychological and physical health and safety.  

Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs), such as employers, must eliminate risks from psychosocial hazards if it is reasonably practicable to do so. If it isn’t reasonably practicable to eliminate these risks, you must minimise them so far as is reasonably practicable.  

You must also consult workers and other business you work with about work health and safety. 

Managing psychosocial risks at work 

The workplace hazards that create risks of harm to psychological (mental) health are known as psychosocial hazards. These hazards can cause both psychological and physical harm.   

Psychosocial hazards can come from:  

  • the way the work or job is designed, organised and managed 

  • work relationships and interactions, including bullying, harassment, discrimination, aggression and violence 

  • the equipment, working environment or requirements to undertake duties in hazardous environments. 

Psychosocial hazards include: 

  • high or low job demands 

  • violence and aggression 

  • harassment, including sexual harassment 

  • bullying 

  • low job control  

  • poor support 

  • conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions 

  • lack of role clarity  

  • poor organisational change management  

  • inadequate reward and recognition 

  • poor organisational justice  

  • poor physical environment 

  • remote or isolated work 

  • traumatic events.  

Identify, assess and control psychosocial hazards and the associated risks in the same way as physical hazards and risks.