On 1 July 2022, new Occupational Health & Safety Regulations are due to commence in Victoria. These impose various obligations on employers to protect the mental health and safety of their workers. According to the Victorian Government, the Regulations are designed to put psychological hazards on the same footing as physical ones and to provide clearer guidance for employers on their duties to protect workers from mental injury.

What are the new requirements?

In summary, the new Occupational Health and Safety Amendment (Psychological Health) Regulations impose the following key obligations on Victorian employers:- identify psychosocial hazards in consultation with employees, such as bullying, sexual harassment, low role clarity, poor support, high job demands, aggression and violence;
– eliminate any risks associated with psychosocial hazards so far as is reasonably practicable;
– view and, if necessary, revise any measures implemented to control risks associated with psychosocial hazards;
– prepare a written prevention plan for certain psychosocial hazards that have been identified, including aggression or violence, bullying, high job demands and sexual harassment. The plan must include information about the relevant risk, measures to control the risk, plans to implement any control measures, and consultation undertaken with employees;
– employers with 50 or more employees must provide a written report to WorkSafe Victoria twice a year regarding whether any psychosocial complaints have been received and keep a copy of the report for five years. The report extends to independent contractors engaged by the employer and their employees.

There are significant financial penalties available against employers who do not comply with the above obligations.

What should employers do?

If employers have not already done so, they should commence the process of identifying any psychosocial hazards in their workplace in consultation with employees. The nature of the consultation process should vary depending on each employer’s circumstances. Once any risks associated with psychosocial hazards are identified, employers should take steps to eliminate them as far as practicable. Further, employers should commence preparing their written prevention plan for relevant psychosocial hazards in their workplace.

Disclaimer
This information and the contents of this publication, current as at the date of publication, is general in nature to offer assistance to Cornwalls’ clients, prospective clients and stakeholders, and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal or financial advice. If you are concerned about any topic covered, we recommend that you seek your own specific legal and financial advice before taking any action.