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Employer Responsibility to Ensure a Workplace Safe from Psychological Harm


A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) must manage the risks to health and safety in the workplace, this includes managing psychosocial risks.

We have been made aware that WorkSafe ACT has been conducting inspections to ensure a company’s compliance with its duties to eliminate or minimise as far as is reasonably practicable psychosocial risks.

What is a psychosocial risk:

psychosocial risk is defined as a risk to the health or safety of a worker or other person arising from a psychosocial hazard.

Psychosocial hazards is a hazard that arises from, or relates to:

  • the design or management of work; or
  • a work environment; or
  • plant at a workplace; or
  • workplace interactions or behaviours.

Common examples include harassment and bullying, role overload, lack of support, remote or isolated work and exposure to traumatic events.

For example if an employee is severely stressed at work or stressed often or over a long time it can cause psychological harm like anxiety or depression. The psychosocial hazard is the cause of that stress.

What is my responsibility as the PCBU?

It is the responsibility of the PCBU to eliminate or minimise as far as is reasonably practicable the psychosocial risks that arise from psychosocial hazards. This requires that an employer takes proactive steps to identify and manage possible psychosocial risks.

The PCBU should take the following steps in managing potential psychosocial risks:

  1. Identify the hazards.
  2. Assess the associated risks.
  3. Implement control measures to eliminate or minimise the risk.
  4. Regularly review control measures to ensure they remain effective.

If you have any questions relating to your responsibilities in managing psychosocial risks, please contact our Workplace Relations and Legal Team on (02) 6175 5900.