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Wellbeing

Why psychosocial risk management has ‘never been more important’

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Psychosocial hazards have been circulating the business world lately, and according to one professional, managing these risks has never been more important.

Jake Majerovic, co-founder and strategy director of post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction clinic Hope In Health, discussed psychosocial hazards and why it’s crucial for employers to reduce the risks.

“Given that psychosocial hazards can cause psychological and physical harm, managing the risks associated with psychosocial hazards has never been more important,” said Mr Majerovic

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“Not only protecting workers, [but] proactively managing psychosocial hazards in the workplace also decreases the disruption associated with staff turnover and absenteeism and may improve broader organisational performance and productivity through holistic workplace practices.”

Mr Majerovic noted that work-related psychological injuries have longer recovery times, higher costs, and require more time away from work than other injuries.

Employers can help to reduce the risk of injury through:

  • Proactive identification of hazards
  • Assessment and evaluation of risks
  • Effective risk controls
  • Continuous reviews of control measures

As far as risk management goes, Mr Majerovic said the things to keep on top of are:

  • Consulting workers
  • Applying surveys and feedback tools
  • Constantly observing work and behaviours
  • Reviewing all available information
  • Having systemised frameworks that openly promote frictionless reporting
  • Gaining full leadership and management commitment

Stress is one of the major complications that can arise if psychosocial hazards aren’t taken care of. This can have an effect on an employee’s ability to work.

“It’s no secret that psychosocial hazards can create stress. As a natural biological response, stress in the workplace occurs when a worker perceives the demands of their work exceed their ability or resources to cope,” Mr Majerovic explained.

“Stress creates a physiological and psychological response in the body that can manifest into hazardous workplace interactions and behaviours, and in prolonged or severe cases, it can lead to psychological and physical harm.”

While this issue is preventable, if an issue does arise, employers should aim to create a comfortable environment for employees to return to.

Mr Majerovic said mitigating these risks can be achieved by adapting:

  • Design of work, including job demands and tasks involved based on the employee’s psychosocial capacity
  • Systems of work, including:
    • Adjusting tasks to match psychosocial capacity
    • Ensuring sufficient time to complete tasks based on capacity
    • Support from supervisors and other workers based on the employee’s capacity
  • Work environment and conditions to suit capacity
  • Workplace interactions, including ensuring respectful behaviours and relationships towards psychosocial capacity
  • Tools used in the task, for example, ensuring plant, substances and equipment are fit for purpose and safe for psychosocial capacity

Mr Majerovic concluded: “For the most proactive employers, psychosocial risks can be minimised through relevant substitution, isolation and engineering controls that adapt to the psychosocial capacity of individual employees.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.