Psychosocial Hazards in Hospitality

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The WHS Act defines health as physical AND psychological health. A new Code of Practice of Managing the Risk of Psychological Hazards at work is being introduced in Queensland on 1 April 2023 – note that compliance with Codes in Qld is mandatory.

This means that employers have a duty under the Act to ensure a physically AND psychologically safe and healthy workplace.

Psychosocial hazards create harm through a worker’s experience of a stress response which can be both a physical and psychological response.

Continuum of Psychological health

Common psychosocial hazards found in workplaces:

  • Work demands (too high / too low)
  • Violence / aggression
  • Low role / job clarity
  • Poor organisational justice (e.g. no consistency in disciplinary action, playing favourites)
  • Poor change management (e.g. no clarity, confusion, conflicting information)
  • Bullying / Harassment
  • Remote or isolated work
  • Poor interpersonal relationships

How do we ensure a psychologically safe workplace?


Work Design

  • Ensuring all employees have clear job descriptions that are known and followed
  • Ensuring the risk of violence / aggression / armed robbery is assessed and effective controls implemented
  • Undertake People At Work (or similar) to assess the risks in your workplace
  • Implement effective controls following consultation with your employees
  • Conduct a confidential employee survey (and act on the results!)
  • Review rostering systems

Work Environment

  • Implement an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and communicate it to all
  • Review the summary reports from your EAP provider for any common issues being reported
  • Consult with your workers about the psychological hazards they are facing or dealing with at work and ensure they are involved in the decision-making process about the controls to be implemented
  • Review incident and hazard reports for any trends, ongoing issues or unresolved problems
  • Ensuring violent or aggressive patrons are banned from the venue – zero tolerance to abuse and violence is clearly communicated and enforced
  • Collaborate with mental health organisations such as Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute etc to provide resources, support facilities and participate in events.

Workplace Interactions / behaviours

  • Ensure your anti-bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence policies are robust and clearly communicated
  • Ensure there is an appropriate reporting mechanism for inappropriate behaviours
  • Reports of inappropriate behaviours / psychological hazards are to investigated immediately with impartiality, fairness and confidentiality
  • Consistent and fair decisions and actions are to be implemented (no playing favourites or giving people special treatment)

Ensure your management and supervisory team have been trained in Mental Health First Aid or similar.

Hazard and injury outcomes

If you need help with psychological hazard identification, please reach out to our Work Health, Safety & Compliance Advisor, Michelle Bates.


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