Psychosocial hazards and work-related stress are among the most challenging issues in the occupational health and safety sector. Organizations are doubling down the efforts to support their employee’s emotional and mental health and well-being.
Organizations and their employers are legally obligated to protect both their worker’s physical and psychological health, according to the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. And so, they must have practical approaches and ways to manage these hazards within their work environment.
This blog post will cover some of the effects to manage psychosocial hazards at work and how to prevent these hazards to ensure a safe workplace for all.
What are Psychosocial Hazards
Psychological hazards are the factors that increase the chances of stress at work leading to other severe mental health concerns as well as psychological or physical harm. Workers are likely to be exposed to a range of psychological hazards present at work or some of them may occur occasionally.
Psychosocial hazards have been identified as one of the key emerging risks of occupational safety and health (OSH). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the negative response to such hazards occurs due to the work demand and when the pressure does not match the employees’ capabilities and rather challenges an employee’s ability to cope with it.
The psychosocial risks affect their productivity leading them to various issues like sickness absence, lost working days, and low morale.
Common Examples of Psychosocial Hazards
Some common examples of psychosocial hazards include:
1. Poor Support
One of the major reasons leading to psychosocial risks is the poor or lack of support from fellow employees or supervisors. The problem may also increase if they have insufficient knowledge, training, and vital tools, equipment, and resources to do the job.
2. Poor Organizational Justice
It occurs in the workplace when there are no proper policies and procedures within the organization, the employers or managers are unfair or biased in the decisions, or have poor management of underperforming employees.
These issues can directly impact those who are consistent and dedicated to their work and can lead to lower self-esteem.
3. Low Recognition & Reward
Lack of positive feedback, lack of opportunity for skills development, or lack of imbalance between employees’ efforts and recognition and reward can lead to psychosocial risks among employees.
When employees are valued, recognized for their work, and rewarded for their efforts, they are like to stay for longer periods, yield positive results to the companies, and stay loyal to their work.
4. Poor Workplace Relationships
Another common problem leading to psychosocial hazards is poor workplace relations among employees. some common examples include harassment, bullying, violent behavior, and inequity between colleagues, managers, or anyone else.
Lack of equity in managing organizational issues or poorly managed workplace practices can also arise the problem. Employers must take serious action against these issues to control the problem.
Supervisors can offer guidance and instructions to their employees in the form of bullying and harassment training, violence and aggression training, equality and diversity training, and more. It helps create awareness among employees and so they will work together for the betterment of their workplace.
5. Poor Environmental Conditions
These issues involve poor workstation settings, exposure to hazardous substances or materials, poor air quality, extreme weather conditions, or unsafe use of machinery. Employers need to conduct regular workplace risk assessments to examine and control any such issues.
How to Manage Psychosocial Risks at Work?
Below are some ways to manage and prevent psychosocial risks within the workplace or organization.
1. Identify Psychosocial Hazards
The types of psychosocial hazards vary from industry to industry and business to business. A key component of identifying this issue in the workplace is by consulting with the employees and asking for honest feedback.
Employers must also review incident reports, complaints, absenteeism, or turnover rate. This will help examine the issue.
2. Assess the Hazard
After identifying the hazard, it is time to assess the problem, so that it can be eliminated from the workplace. Employers need to conduct risk assessments within their work environment. This will help them determine the level of the risk and vital control measures to minimize it.
3. Develop Control Measures
The third step is to manage the psychosocial risks. Employers need to have a hierarchy of risk control measures to examine and eliminate them. As organizations have a legal obligation to protect the health and safety of their employees including both physical and psychological health.
4. Monitor & Review Control Measures
Like every other workplace hazard, psychosocial risks must be regularly monitored and reviewed to see if they are effective for the workplace and their employees or not. Employers must regularly review the risk control measures and prioritize the one that needs instant attention. This will help create a safe and secure workplace for all.
There is a wide range of workplace safety hazards within any organization that can impact an individual’s physical, emotional, or psychological health. Employers have a legal duty toward their employees for the protection of safety and health so that high standards of safety are integrated at work and meet legal compliance.
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