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Psychosocial hazards in the workplace

Posted on 22 August 2023

Potential psychosocial hazards can be difficult to visually see, yet can cause catastrophic mental injuries to those impacted by them. As employer’s, we have a duty of care to protect employee’s from any risk’s to their health inclusive of psychological health.

What are psychosocial hazards?

A psychosocial hazard is defined as “aspects of work that have the potential cause psychological or physical harm”. All employers have a list of a potential psychosocial hazards that are unique to their workplace and should be closely monitored however, a list of the “most common” hazards have been identified by Safe Work Australia which include but are not limited to:

  • Violence and aggression

  • Excessive job demands

  • Traumatic events or material

  • Bullying

  • Poor organisational justice

  • Low job control

  • Inadequate reward and recognition

  • Remote or isolated work

  • Poor organisational change management

  • Poor physical environment

  • Poor support

  • Harassment, including sexual harassment

  • Lack of role clarity, and

  • Conflict or poor workplace relationships and interactions.

What are the impacts of psychosocial risks?

Outside of the litigation and fines that can occur when breaching health and safety laws, why should business’s prioritise psychosocial hazard and risk management? By prioritising psychosocial hazard and risk management, businesses can:

Boost employee productivity

– Depression and anxiety disorders among employees cost the Australian economy $12.6 billion per year in lost productivity, according to a study by PwC.

Reduce employee absenteeism

– Mental health conditions result in an estimated 12 million days of reduced productivity and 6 million days of absenteeism per year in Australia.

Reduce employee turnover

– The cost of replacing an employee due to poor mental health is estimated to be between $20,000 and $30,000 in Australia. This includes the cost of recruitment, training, and lost productivity.

Improve physical wellbeing of staff

– In Australia, workers compensation claims related to mental health issues have increased by 11.6% per year on average between 2014 and 2018. The average cost of a mental health-related workers compensation claim is $35,900.

Increase workplace morale and commitment

– Presenteeism due to mental health issues costs Australian businesses an estimated $17.1 billion per year.

Tips for Prevention:

Safe Work Australia has created 4 steps for Prevention of psychosocial related injuries.


Identify psychosocial hazards and risks by:

  • talking and listening to your workers

  • inspecting your workplace

  • taking note of how your workers interact

  • reviewing reports and records, and 

  • using a survey tool to gather information from staff 

2. Assess

Consider the implications if employees are exposed to the identified hazards and risks. Remember, many risks/hazards are obvious however, some may need to be identified using a formal assessment process.

3. Control

Where possible, eliminate the risk. This is always the safest option, but if it isn’t possible, minimise the risk as much as possible through planning and prevention.


Maintain, monitor and review control measures when necessary. It is important to regularly review control measures to ensure they remain effective

Mental Health Support

If you or a colleague are experiencing signs of Depression and/or Anxiety there are services to help:

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