New regulations to manage risks of psychological harm

01 December 2023

New regulations to help workers and employers manage the risk of psychological injuries and illnesses in the workplace will come into effect this month.

The changes to the regulations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 will help provide better guidance to workers and employers from 25 December 2023.

Psychological illnesses have a significant effect on workers’ health, as well as business productivity. There has been a growing recognition of the need for the work health and safety framework to better deal with risks of psychological harm.

These new regulations reflect the outcomes of an independent review of Australia’s model work health and safety laws in 2018, which recommended more specific guidance how to identify and manage psychosocial risks.

Psychosocial hazards are hazards that may cause psychological harm. Examples range from excessive workload demands, to exposure to traumatic events and material, to issues such as bullying, harassment and sexual discrimination in the workplace.

When the regulations come into effect they will be supported by a Code of Practice on Managing psychosocial hazards at work which will provide practical guidance on how to manage risks to psychological health, developed in consultation with workers and businesses.

SafeWork SA Executive Director Glenn Farrell said that a psychologically safe environment creates the foundation for workers and businesses to thrive.

‘The new regulations and Code of Practice will support businesses to be proactive in ensuring their most valuable assets – their workers – are free from harm at work,’ he said.

‘SafeWork SA will be working with employer and employee organisations to push out guidance material to understand business owners understanding their obligations.’

Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector Kyam Maher said preventing psychological harm is an essential part of creating a safe and healthy workplace.

‘These new regulations are part of a significant national effort to better address the risks caused by psychosocial hazards at work, and recognise that a worker’s psychological health is just as important as their physical health,’ he said.

‘I look forward to continuing to work with both business and worker representatives to improve health and safety in South Australian workplaces.’