Industry Safety Bulletin, News

What are psychosocial hazards?

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The NSW Resources Regulator is intensifying efforts to combat psychosocial hazards in the mining industry. But what exactly are these hazards?

According to the Regulator, psychosocial hazards extend beyond bullying and harassment and may include sexual assault, physical assault or psychological abuse. Whether a single event or repeated occurrence, psychosocial hazards are defined as any threatening, violent, forced, coercive, or exploitative behaviour or act where the victim has not consented or was unable to give consent.

Under relevant workplace health and safety legislation, any incident that results in a notifiable injury or illness must be reported to the Regulator.

Safe Work Australia has a broader definition, defining a psychosocial hazard as anything that could cause psychological harm, such as low job control, lack of role clarity, isolated work, traumatic events or material, and so on. This also includes physical assault and related harm.

“Psychosocial hazards can create stress,” Safe Work said. “This can cause psychological or physical harm.

“Stress itself is not an injury. But if workers are stressed often, over a long time, or the level of stress is high, it can cause harm.

“Psychological harm may include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disorders,

“Physical harm may include musculoskeletal injuries, chronic disease or fatigue related injuries.”

NSW Resources Regulator chief inspector Anthony Margetts said that the watchdog was steadfast in its commitment to eliminating issues that could impact workers’ mental or physical health in the mining industry.

“We aim to create safer, more respectful workplaces for everyone by fostering a culture of reporting and accountability,” he said.

“Psychosocial hazards extend beyond bullying and harassment, they may cause a response resulting in psychological or physical harm caused by workplace environments, workload, work tasks, equipment provided or working relationships.”

Hunter mining company The Bloomfield Group recently launched a training video to help identify psychosocial hazards in the workplace and help workers understand how to manage the risks.

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