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Psychological Health & SafetyPsychosocial Risks

Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace: Evidence-based Assessments

In today’s increasingly complex work environment, safeguarding employee health goes beyond eliminating physical hazards; it now includes tackling psychosocial hazards in the workplace. These invisible yet potent factors can impact mental health and general wellbeing. This article unpacks the types of psychosocial hazards, and their potential detrimental effects and shares AP Psychology & Consulting Services evidence-based solutions to protect employees and create thriving workplaces.

Identifying Common Psychosocial Hazards

Psychosocial hazards encompass a range of factors that pose a risk to an employee’s psychological health and safety. In the workplace, some common psychosocial hazards include:

  • Job Demands: Excessive or low workloads, unrealistic expectations, and tight deadlines.
  • Bullying: Persistent negative behaviours such as verbal abuse or humiliation from colleagues or supervisors.
  • Traumatic Events: Experiencing or witnessing distressing incidents that have lasting emotional impacts.
  • Job Control: A need for autonomy and decision-making power over one’s work.

Recognising that these hazards can interact or compound, potentially leading to heightened risks of injury, is crucial. For instance, high job demands and a lack of control can magnify the stress levels of a worker.

The Role of PCBUs to Mitigate Risk

A Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is responsible for creating a safe and healthy work environment that addresses psychosocial hazards. PCBUs must either eliminate or minimise these risks to a reasonably practicable extent.

This risk management process involves four key steps:

  1. Identifying Psychological Hazards: Pinpointing potential psychosocial hazards within the workplace.
  2. Assessing Risks: Evaluating the associated risks in terms of duration, frequency, and severity of exposure.
  3. Implementing Control Measures: Introducing measures to eliminate or reduce the identified risks.
  4. Monitor and Review Controls: Regularly scrutinising the effectiveness of the implemented measures.

Assessing the Risk: A Comprehensive Approach

A comprehensive evaluation is essential to assess the risk of harm from psychosocial hazards. This involves considering various factors:

Duration: How long is an employee exposed to the hazards or risks?

Frequency: How often does exposure to hazards occur?

Severity: How intense are the hazards, and to what extent are employees exposed?

It’s important to analyse all psychosocial risks collectively rather than in isolation. A holistic approach ensures a more accurate understanding of potential harm. For instance, an employee facing aggressive customer behaviour might be at greater risk if they lack peer support or have not received adequate training to diffuse these situations.

A proactive approach to psychosocial hazard management hinges on diligent assessment, strategic implementation of control measures, and vigilant reviews to adapt to evolving risks.

By recognising and addressing psychosocial hazards, employers can foster a workplace culture that prioritises physical safety and safeguards the mental and emotional wellbeing of their most valuable assets – their employees. Let’s explore the tools and strategies that can be used to create a safer and more supportive work environment. 

Applying physical risk assessment frameworks to analyse psychosocial risks

We strive towards a more comprehensive perspective in a world where risk evaluation is pivotal in maintaining safety. Our latest innovation is a customised risk assessment tool that seamlessly adapts the well-established principles of physical risk assessment into psychological hazards.

Synergy of Familiarity and Innovation

The rationale behind this amalgamation is both intuitive and strategic. Those well-versed in employing physical risk assessment tools can now use these skills to evaluate based on existing expertise. We offer a bridge that connects the known landscape to the relatively new space of psychological health and safety.

Elevating Excellence: Guided by Empirical Insight

Central to our approach is the incorporation of best-practice psychological evidence. Our Risk assessment tool is proactive, identifying potential psychological hazards and advocating for preventative measures based on empirical insights.

Our Advanced Psychosocial Risk Assessment

The primary objective of our advanced Psychosocial Risk Assessment is to facilitate a thorough evaluation that aids in gauging the maturity of your organisation concerning psychological health and safety. This assessment examines your existing systems, policies, programs, action plans, and procedures to promote a workplace that supports both mental and physical wellbeing.

Outcomes for Your Organisation

Upon the conclusion of this comprehensive assessment, your organisation will attain the following outcomes:

  1. Gain a clear comprehension of your organisation’s strengths and areas for development concerning psychological health and safety risks and control measures.
  2. Receive informed guidance on the subsequent steps required to elevate your organisational maturity, complete with recommendations for targeted interventions and actionable strategies.

Methodology and Key Features

Project Management: The project is established and continuously managed closely with key stakeholders, ensuring a collaborative and results-orientated approach.

Rigorous Evaluation: Leverage an evidence-based framework for a comprehensive organisational review, augmented by qualitative data collection.

Comprehensive Reporting: The final report encapsulates your workplace’s maturity status and high-level recommendations for future endeavours.

Delivering Excellence

Stakeholder Engagement: A collaborative working group ensures the integration of insights bolstered by transparent project reporting and consultative processes. 

Aligned with Global Best Practices: Our approach aligns seamlessly with internationally recognised standards, including ISO45003, and mirrors federal and state-based legislative mandates.

As your organisation embarks on this transformative journey towards enhanced psychological health and safety, our holistic assessment equips you with the knowledge and action plan needed to foster a thriving, well-rounded, and resilient work environment.

Workplace Psychological Safety Index (WPSI): A Pioneering Workplace Psychosocial Risk Assessment

At the heart of our risk management approach lies the Workplace Psychological Safety Index (WPSI), a validated instrument designed to comprehensively assess perceptions of psychosocial risks and hazards within organisational settings. In alignment with ISO45003 guidelines, the WPSI helps us establish a comprehensive organisational risk profile and achieves this by actively engaging and consulting with your workforce.

Crafting Organisational Outcomes

Through the completion of this dynamic review, organisations stand to achieve the following outcomes:

Quantifying Psychosocial Risks: Gain insights into the workforce’s perceptions of psychosocial risks within the organisation.

Informed Decision-Making: Utilise data that encapsulates organisational and individual perceptions of psychosocial risks to inform recommendations and guide action.

Methodology and Features: A Closer Look at the WPSI

Holistic Evaluation: The WPSI employs a battery of validated items meticulously designed to assess all Workplace Psychological Health and Safety facets.

Evidence-Driven: Anchored in an evidence-based foundation, the WPSI generates a comprehensive Organisational/Team Risk Profile, mapping risks for a holistic understanding. Granular Analysis: The tool offers a deeper dive through in-depth data analysis and Risk Profiling, allowing for insights into specific sub-cohorts within the organisation.

Synergistic Approach: The WPSI integrates with existing data sources, enriching employee engagement data and risk registers while feeding into targeted action planning and risk mitigation.

Excellence in Delivery: Our Collaborative Approach

Research-Backed: A result of a close partnership with Deakin University, the WPSI is meticulously designed, informed, and validated through research.

ISO45003 Compliant: The methodology adopted for the WPSI aligns seamlessly with the latest ISO45003 standards, reinforcing its robustness and relevance


In a landscape where psychological health and safety is now an expected and demanded part of working life, comprehensive risk management has never been more essential. Employers and organisations have a responsibility and an opportunity to create resilient and robust workplaces, both physically and psychologically.

By adopting a unified risk assessment and management approach, we set the stage for a more empowered workforce. Contact the AP Psychology & Consulting Services team if you are unsure where to start.