Employer responsibilities

Mentally healthy workplaces: Resources for workers

Mentally healthy workplaces: Resources for workers

What are your employer's responsibilities?

Everyone has the right to be safe at work. Workers and others in the workplace should not be exposed to psychosocial hazards and risk factors during the course of their work as far as reasonably practicable.

Note: Workplace psychosocial hazards and risk factors (e.g. organisational, environmental) are sometimes referred to as work stressors.

Hierarchy of control
Hierarchy of control

Workplace psychosocial hazards are related to the psychological and social conditions of the workplace, rather than just the physical conditions. These include: stress, fatigue, bullying, violence, aggression, harassment and burnout, which can be harmful to the health of workers and compromise their wellbeing. There are also risk factors (e.g. misuse of alcohol and other drugs or poor change management) that increase the risk or potential for harm to health from exposure to a hazard.

To promote the mental wellbeing of workers, managers and supervisors need to control work risk factors as far as reasonably practicable. Some control measures are more effective than others.

Controls can be ranked from the highest level of protection and reliability to the lowest. This ranking is known as the hierarchy of control. In some cases, a combination of controls may provide the best solution to minimise the risk to the lowest level that is reasonably practicable.

Eliminating the hazard is the most effective control, and should always be considered first. Where this is not practicable, organisations should minimise the risk by working through the hierarchy from most to least reliable measures. Often, several controls are applied simultaneously to effectively control a hazard.

Some examples of the types of control measures your employer may apply are listed below.

Elimination
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Eliminate exposure to the hazard by:

  • Maintaining an inclusive workplace culture
  • Applying good work design
  • Matching skills and capabilities to job requirements
  • Applying structured change management processes
  • Providing access to reliable communication systems
Substitution
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Substitute the hazard with a safer alternative by:

  • Considering even time or shorter rosters
  • Developing leadership skills and capacity
  • Providing targeted management and supervisor training
  • Rotating jobs
  • Introducing coaching
Isolation or Segregation
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Isolate the hazard from any person potentially exposed to it using:

  • Buffers between living quarters and potential sources of nuisance or excessive noise (e.g. parking, catering and recreational areas)
Engineering
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Minimise the possibility of exposure to the hazard by controlling the hazard at its source through:

  • Redesigning jobs
  • Adjusting workloads
  • Appropriately designing the built environment (e.g. structures, features, facilities)
  • Addressing thermal comfort
  • Providing sufficient resources to complete the job safely and on time
Administrative
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Reduce the possibility of exposure to the hazard through work methods or documents such as:

  • Workplace behaviour policy and code of conduct
  • Conflict management procedure
  • Reporting procedure
  • Succession plan
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
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Help limit the harmful effects of the hazard by preparing workers using:

  • Health and wellbeing programs
  • Peer support programs
  • Resilience training
  • Stress management training
  • Employee assistance program