Managing psychosocial hazards and risks at work is just as important as managing physical risks. Psychosocial hazards can exist in every workplace, in every industry, every day.
The release of the Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work Code of Practice 2022 (the Code) along with amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation, are important steps in keeping Queensland workplaces safe, healthy and productive.
The new code and regulations will raise awareness of existing duties and provide clarity and certainty for duty holders about their obligations under the Act to ensure psychological health risks are eliminated or minimised.
The harm created by psychosocial hazards and risks varies, and the effects are not always obvious. It can be a single event involving one or more psychosocial risks, such as exposure to a traumatic event by an ambulance officer. It can be a combination of psychosocial risks that accumulate to create frequent, prolonged or severe stress responses, such as organisational change with poor supervisor support and low role clarity.
Looking for practical resources? Download the Mentally healthy workplaces toolkit for tools and resources that you can use to create and maintain a mentally healthy workplace. The Code commences 1 April 2023. Visit https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/laws-and-compliance/codes-of-practice/managing-the-risk-of-psychosocial-hazards-at-work-code-of-practice-2022
Here are some practical ideas to use when thinking about how these risks apply to community groups and volunteers
- Develop and implement a psychosocial risk management plan: This involves identifying the psychosocial hazards that may impact volunteers in the organization, assessing their likelihood and severity, and developing measures to mitigate or eliminate them.
- Provide training and support to volunteers: Volunteers should be provided with adequate training and support to help them cope with the psychosocial hazards they may encounter. This can include training in stress management, communication skills, conflict resolution, and self-care.
- Foster a supportive and inclusive culture: Creating a culture of support and inclusion can help reduce the risk of psychosocial hazards. This can be achieved by encouraging open communication, providing opportunities for feedback and engagement, and promoting a sense of belonging among volunteers.
- Establish clear policies and procedures: Clear policies and procedures can help reduce the risk of psychosocial hazards by providing volunteers with clear guidelines for behavior and expectations. This can include policies on bullying, harassment, discrimination, and conflict resolution.
- Monitor and evaluate psychosocial hazards: Regular monitoring and evaluation can help identify new or emerging psychosocial hazards and assess the effectiveness of existing risk management measures. This can involve collecting feedback from volunteers, analyzing incident or near miss reports, and conducting surveys or focus groups.
Some things to consider when looking at the possible risks for volunteers
- Consider the following categories of hazards and identify any that may be relevant to your organization.
- Organizational culture: Is there a culture of bullying, harassment, or discrimination? Are there high levels of stress or burnout among volunteers?
- Interpersonal relationships: Are there conflicts between volunteers or between volunteers and staff? Are there instances of verbal or physical aggression?
- Workload and job demands: Are volunteers overworked or required to work long hours? Is there a lack of support or resources?
- Role and expectations: Are volunteers clear about their roles and responsibilities? Are there unrealistic expectations or a lack of clarity about what is expected of them?
- Traumatic events: Are volunteers exposed to traumatic events, such as natural disasters, wildlife rescue or accidents?