24 July 2023

What is Psychosocial Risk?

Author: Bernadette Smyth, Goveneering

From 1 October 2022 in NSW, a person conducting business must respond to, manage and prevent psychosocial risks under the Work Health & Safety Act 2011 The physical, mental and emotional safety of your employees has never been more important.

The legislative requirements around psychosocial hazards recognise that employee safety extends beyond the physical.

A psychosocial hazard is a hazard that arises from or relates to:

  • the design or management of work
  • a work environment
  • plant & equipment at a workplace and/or
  • workplace interactions or behaviours that may cause psychological harm


Examples include:

  • lack or role clarity or low job control
  • remote or isolated work
  • poor physical environment
  • poor organisational justice   
  • job demands
  • bullying & harrassment
  • traumatic events or material
  • workplace conflict


Employer Responsibilities

Employers have a duty of care and must:

  • identify reasonably foreseeable psychosocial hazards that could lead to health & safety risks
  • introduce, maintain & review control measures to eliminate (or mitigate) psychosocial risks as far as is reasonably practicable


Risk Management

Employers are encouraged to undertake a risk assessment and review their existing control measures in relation to psychosocial risk. A proactive approach to managing psychosocial risk is to implement a ‘Fit For Work’ framework whereby each employee’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing is considered in ensuring the safety of all persons at work. This is a broader concept than a traditional WHS perspective.