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R U OK? What corporate Australia should know about the new requirements to protect employees’ psychological safety

The group R U OK? asks all Australians to think about how the people in their world are truly faring. 

A non-profit organisation called R U OK? promotes prevention strategies to inspire employees to maintain relationships and support one another during trying times to maintain workplace mental health. There are numerous advantages for a business in supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing, including:

  • Greater engagement and productivity 
  • A culture of safety and support at work that draws in quality personnel while upholding your legal requirements for workplace health and safety 

Likewise, on August 1, Safe Work Australia unveiled a new model of workplace health and safety laws to protect Australian workers against psychological dangers.

According to new legislation, businesses must reduce or eliminate psychosocial risks as far as it is practically possible. The only Australian state or territory that has adopted any version of the model regulations so far is Victoria.

What’s Safe Work Australia’s code of practice for psychosocial hazards?

For managing psychosocial hazards at work, SafeWork Australia issued its finalised national model WHS Code of Practice. The Code was created in response to recent modifications to the Model WHS Regulations, which include a positive requirement on PCBUs to manage and protect against the risk of psychosocial hazards in the workplace.

In accordance with current WHS regulations, PCBUs have a primary duty of care to protect the physical and mental well-being of employees and others. 

Here’s more: Managing psychosocial hazards at work

Some of the noteworthy changes from Safe Work include:

  • Psychological health regulations include recognising workplace psychological hazards and devising control strategies to reduce psychosocial risks. 
  • Safe Work Australia has published a Model Code of Practice for Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work; prohibition on insuring against WHS penalties – this has previously been adopted in other jurisdictions, such as NSW, WA, and Victoria
  • WHS regulators can collect information pertinent to investigations of potential violations of WHS regulations outside of their authority
  • Eliminating a provision requiring WHS permit holders to provide 24 hours notice before entering a location to investigate suspected violations.

Whether or not their state or territory has accepted the legislation, provider of workplace mental health, AccessEAP, asserts that organisations should be proactive in guaranteeing psychological safety for employees.

“With R U OK Day approaching, we want to encourage workplaces to extend the conversation beyond a singular day, turning mental health into an ongoing discussion that is free of stigma, year-round,” said Fiona Mackenzie, AccessEAP CEO.  

Janelle Whittle, MyState’s Chief Financial Officer said, “In the wake of COVID-19 and ‘The Great Resignation’, we recognise that workplace wellbeing and support is an increasingly important priority for many people. Providing accessible resources fosters a positive work environment and helps our people feel their best.”

Resources for business owners

Operating a business is both rewarding and challenging. Some easy ways to take care of your mental health are:

Mindarma, the free self-paced online wellbeing program that works. It includes 10 interactive 15-minute sessions

Partners in Wellbeing Helpline – speak to trained financial counsellors, business advisers and wellbeing coaches for confidential one-on-one support, 7 days a week

WorkWell Toolkit for small business – step-by-step guide for employing businesses to create a mentally safe workplace

R U OK? and Yellow Pages’ Mental Health Handbook for Small Business Owners

Source: Business Victoria.

More here.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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