Psychosocial hazards can exist in every workplace, in every industry, on any given day. However, unlike a physical injury, psychological injuries are often invisible to others, and people may not feel safe or able to speak up about it.
New legislation introduced on April 1 2023 now requires employers to prevent and manage psychosocial hazards in the workplace in the same way as physical hazards are identified and managed.
What are psychosocial hazards in the workplace?
Psychosocial hazards are anything in the design or management of work that increases the risk of work-related stress. Some examples include:
- Job demands (high or low)
- Poor support, or inadequate recognition and reward
- Exposure to traumatic events or materials
- Remote or isolated work
- Poor organisational change management or responses to injustices
- Conflict or poor workplace relationships
- Harassment, bullying or aggression
It’s important to recognise that stress in and of itself does not constitute a psychosocial hazard. But if it is prolonged, severe, and having a negative effect on an individual’s mental, emotional, social and physical functioning, then a psychological injury may result.
In the past, psychological injuries in the workplace have not been widely recognised in comparison to a physical injury, leaving many workers to suffer in silence without adequate support. But thankfully, that’s all changing now.
What is psychological safety at work?
One way to minimise psychosocial hazards is to focus efforts on creating a psychologically safe workplace that becomes part of the organisational culture. In short, psychological safety is about creating an environment at work where staff can speak up, share ideas, ask questions and make mistakes without fear of humiliation or retribution.
7 Strategies to increase psychological safety at work
Creating psychological safety at work is everyone’s responsibility across all levels of a company or organisation. Here are 7 ways all employees can help to develop a workplace culture where psychological safety is the norm:
- Practice active listening during meetings and brainstorming sessions
- Ask thought-provoking, open-ended questions
- Give support and ask for support when needed
- Show empathy, care, and concern for each other
- Praise, encourage, and express gratitude for one another
- Express your thoughts and ideas respectfully and politely encourage others to do the same
- Give each other the benefit of the doubt when expressing challenges
If you feel you have suffered a psychological injury at work, our experienced senior Psychologists can help you work towards recovering and coping better with workplace stress.