When we hear of Workplace Health and Safety (WHS), we tend to think of things like hard hats and steel cap boots. Of course, keeping people safe from injury and physical harm is incredibly important at work – but what about our mental health?
Recently, WHS Regulations have been updated to include the management of psychosocial hazards. Essentially, these are things in the workplace that might harm someone’s mental health or wellbeing. This can include things like:
- Bullying and harassment;
- Extreme job demands;
- Violence and aggression;
- Low job control;
- Poor support;
- Traumatic events;
- And many more.
Who is responsible for Workplace Health & Safety?
It’s the responsibility of the business owner to ensure that a workplace is safe and welcoming for everyone involved (both physically and mentally). This includes workers, contractors, and even visitors (including customers).
However, workers still have some responsibilities as well, such as being respectful to fellow employees and customers, and wearing personal protective equipment properly.
Why were these changes made?
These changes aim to increase the importance of looking after mental health in the workplace, as it can be just as important as physical health. Instead of being optional company policy, it is now a legal requirement for businesses and workplaces to eliminate or minimise the risk of both physical and mental harm to workers.
These changes will hopefully do two things:
- Make it less likely for workers to experience stress leading to mental harm in the workplace; and
- Provide better options for recourse or compensation if something does go wrong.
Where can I go for help?
Remember, if you feel like something isn’t quite right at work, you can always speak up. If you’re uncomfortable talking to your boss or manager, consider talking to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult. Or if you need advice, you can contact either the Fair Work Ombudsman or Safe Work in your state or territory.
And if you need mental health support, you can always call Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
You can read more about the importance of workplace health and safety in our blog here.