New Psychosocial Code of Practice

Australian Medical Association

As of 1 April 2023, a new Code of Practice and Regulation, Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work, will be approved and legally enforceable to all workplaces covered by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act). This code of practice will address psychological health risks at work. It will provide guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) on how to prevent harm from psychosocial hazards at work, inclusive of psychological and physical harm.

Your obligations as an employer

Under the WHS Act, a PCBU has a primary duty of care and must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their workers while they are at work in the business or undertaking. This can be achieved by doing the following:

  • comply with an approved code of practice, or
  • manage hazards and risks arising from the work carried out as part of the business or undertaking in a way that is different to the code but provides an equivalent or higher standard of work health and safety than the standard required in the code.

What are psychosocial hazards?

Psychosocial hazards are anything at work that may cause psychological or physical harm. This type of hazard arises from, or relates to, the design or management of work, a work environment, plant at a workplace, or workplace interactions and behaviours and may cause psychosocial harm, which can also escalate into causing physical harm.

As shown in the below diagram from the Worksafe Australia Code of Practice, psychosocial hazards can create harm through a workers experience of a frequent, prolonged and/or severe stress response, where stress is defined as a person’s psychological response (e.g. anxiety tension) and physical response (e.g. releases of stress hormones, cardiovascular response) to work demands or threats.

It is important that practice owners understand their responsibilities as an employer in managing risks in their workplace. You can access the code of practice by clicking here to learn more about your obligations. In section 1.2 of the Code, it outlines in more detail who a PCBU is and what is expected of them.

Workplace Relations Support

AMA Queensland’s Workplace Relations Support can assist you by providing guidance on interpreting legislation, like the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011, and assist you in better understanding your obligations.

Workplace Relations Toolkit

Our Workplace Relations Toolkit contains work, health and safety specific templates such as a template policy and a newly updated hazard and incident report form.

Workplace Relations Consultancy

Our Workplace Relations Consultancy service can assist you by creating specific policies and templates tailored to your Practice’s needs, as well as providing customised training seminars to your staff with a focus on work, health and safety, so they too, understand their obligations as a worker.

/AMA/AusMed News. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).