WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH & SAFETY
Mental health is a workplace issue – a
Under the workplace or occupational health and safety laws, employers must provide and maintain a working environment for their people that is safe and without risks to mental health.
Under section 19 of the WHS Act (or section 21(1) of the OHS Act in Victoria) employers have a duty of care. They must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable. The term health includes both physical and psychological health.
Employers must systematically and comprehensively:
• identify work-related hazards and risks;
• assess risks (where the degree of risk and suitable controls are not already known);
• implement effective control measures to eliminate hazards or minimise risks. The main focus on the good design and effective management of work, creating safe systems of work and ensuring appropriate communication and behaviour; and
• consult effectively with your workers, their representatives and others where required.
An Employer has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other people are not exposed to psychological health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. This duty requires employers to ‘manage’ risks to psychological health and safety arising from the business or undertaking by eliminating exposure to psychosocial hazards so far as is reasonably practicable. If it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate them, you must then minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Employees have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must comply with reasonable instructions, as far as they are reasonably able, and co-operate with reasonable health and safety policies or procedures that have been notified to workers.
Pursuant to section 18 of the WHS Act (or section 20 of the OHS Act in Victoria), regard must be had to the following matters in determining what is (or was at a particular time) reasonably practicable in relation to ensuring health and safety:
a. the likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned eventuating;
b. the degree of harm that would result if the hazard or risk eventuated;
c. what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk and any ways of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk;
d. the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk; and
e. the cost of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk.
For more information, please see our National Guidance Material available here.