Breaking News: Employers to Recognise and Manage Psychosocial Risks

There is definitely a trending increase in claims for compensation and damages for psychiatric injury.

In March and May this year, we published articles on the latest cases setting out principles to be applied in primary psychiatric injury claims.

In April, the High Court ruled that if an employer conceded the potential for workers to be psychiatrically injured through the nature of their employment, it could be considered a breach of the employer’s duty of care, unless the employer applied the policies developed to protect their workers from the risk of such injury (Kozarov v Victoria [2022] HCA 12).

The Queensland Government has now enacted the Work Health and Safety (Psychosocial Risks) Amendment Regulation 2022, which defines “psychosocial hazard” and “psychosocial risk” and declares that a person conducting a business or undertaking must manage psychosocial risks.

New Regulations commence on 1 April 2023. From that date, the following need to be considered when determining control measures to minimise or manage psychosocial risks:

  • the duration, frequency, or severity of the exposure of workers and other persons to psychosocial hazards;
  • how the psychosocial hazards may interact or combine;
  • the design of work, including job demands and tasks;
  • the systems of work, including how work is managed, organised and supported;
  • the design and layout, and environmental conditions, of the workplace, including the provision of –
    • safe means of entering and exiting the workplace; and
    • facilities for the welfare of workers;
  • the design and layout, and environmental conditions, of workers’ accommodation;
  • the plant, substances, and structures at the workplace;
  • workplace interactions or behaviours; and
  • the information, training, instruction, and supervision provided to workers.

By particularising the duty of care in the new Regulation, the bar may be raised in lockstep with society’s expectations to mitigate the risk of psychiatric injury in the workplace.

“The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.”
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