How to Assess and Manage Psychosocial Risks in the Workplace: A Step-by-Step Guide


Psychosocial risks in the workplace are factors that can impact an employee’s mental health and overall well-being.

These risks, which include stress, bullying, harassment, and job insecurity, can lead to serious health issues if not properly managed. Addressing these risks is essential for fostering a safe and productive work environment.

In Perth, the importance of recognising and managing psychosocial risks extends beyond good practice—it’s a legal requirement. Local regulations mandate that employers take proactive steps to ensure the mental well-being of their employees.

Additionally, Perth’s unique cultural aspects, such as a strong emphasis on work-life balance and FIFO community, make it particularly important to address these issues effectively.

This guide provides a step-by-step approach to assess and manage psychosocial risks in your workplace. Implementing these strategies can help create a healthier, happier, and more productive work environment for everyone.

Whether you are a small business owner or part of a large organization, understanding and mitigating these risks is crucial to fostering a positive workplace culture in Perth.

What Exactly Are Psychosocial Risks?

Mental Health Psychology

Psychosocial risks are factors in the workplace that can affect an employee’s mental health and overall well-being. These risks include things like bullying, harassment, and job insecurity.

For instance, in Perth’s mining and construction industries, workers often deal with high-stress environments and demanding workloads, which can lead to burnout and anxiety.

These risks significantly impact workers. Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety can develop, leading to reduced productivity and more sick days.

Physically, ongoing stress can cause problems like heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s important to address psychosocial risks to protect the mental and physical health of employees, ensuring a healthier and more productive workplace.

Legal Obligations in Western Australia

In Western Australia, the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act sets out clear responsibilities for employers to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees.

Under this legislation, employers must identify and manage all workplace risks, including psychosocial hazards. This involves assessing potential risks, implementing control measures, and continuously monitoring their effectiveness.

Additionally, ISO 45003 provides international guidelines for managing psychosocial risks in the workplace. It offers a structured approach to identifying and controlling these risks, promoting a healthier work environment.

In Western Australia, specific guidelines including three Codes -Psychosocial Hazards in the Workplace, Workplace Behaviours and Violence and Aggression, complement the WHS Act, emphasizing the importance of mental health in occupational safety.

Employers must stay informed about these standards and guidelines to comply with legal obligations and foster a safe, supportive workplace. Addressing psychosocial risks not only meets regulatory requirements but also contributes to a more productive and positive working environment.

Identifying Psychosocial Hazards

Understanding and addressing psychosocial risks in the workplace begins with identifying the hazards. Engaging with your employees is essential in this process.

Start by having open, honest conversations with your team about their experiences and concerns. Create a safe environment where they feel comfortable sharing.

For instance, regular check-ins and team meetings can help uncover hidden stressors that might not be immediately obvious.

Utilising surveys and tools is another effective way to gather feedback. The People at Work Survey is a great example of a free evidence based anonymous tool that allows employees to express their concerns without fear of judgement.

According to Safe Work Australia, 42.9% Australians had experienced a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime. Anonymous surveys can help you identify specific areas that need attention.

Observational methods are also crucial. Pay attention to changes in behaviour, such as decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, or noticeable anxiety among your team members. These signs can indicate underlying workplace stress.

Assessing the Risks

Begin by evaluating the likelihood of each identified hazard occurring and the potential impact it could have on your team.

This can be done using a straightforward matrix, where you rate the likelihood and impact on a scale from low to high.

When conducting the assessment, consider key factors such as the duration, frequency, and severity of exposure to these hazards.

For example, an employee who is frequently exposed to high-pressure deadlines might be at greater risk of stress-related issues compared to someone who only occasionally faces such pressures.

Additionally, take into account the severity of the hazard’s impact. According to Safe Work Australia, prolonged exposure to high-stress environments can lead to serious health issues, including anxiety and depression.  Of 10,000 serious mental stress claims in 2021-2022, the highest proportion were attributed to work related harassment and/or workplace bullying (27.5%), work pressure (25.2 %) and exposure to workplace violence (16.4%).

By thoroughly assessing these factors, you can prioritise which hazards need immediate attention and develop targeted strategies to mitigate them, ensuring a healthier and more supportive workplace for everyone.

Implementing Control Measures

Once risks have been assessed, it’s time to implement control measures using the hierarchy of controls. This framework starts with the most effective methods and progresses to those that are less effective.

Begin with elimination, which involves removing the hazard entirely. If elimination isn’t feasible, consider substitution, which means replacing the hazard with something less harmful.

Next, look at engineering controls, such as redesigning the workplace to reduce exposure to hazards. Administrative controls, like changing work policies or schedules, are also crucial. Finally, personal protective measures, though less effective on their own, can still play a role in mitigating risks.

For businesses in Perth, practical examples of control measures include introducing flexible work policies to reduce stress and improve working conditions.

Another effective strategy is implementing mental health training programs, which can equip employees with the skills to manage stress and support their colleagues.

Monitoring and Reviewing Controls

Effective management of psychosocial risks doesn’t stop with implementing control measures; it requires ongoing monitoring and reviewing.

Regular reviews are essential to ensure that the measures in place are effectively mitigating the identified hazards. Schedule periodic assessments to evaluate the impact of your controls and to identify any new or emerging risks.

Continually assessing the effectiveness of control measures helps you stay proactive. This involves gathering feedback from employees, observing changes in workplace dynamics, and analysing incident reports.

According to Safe Work Australia, businesses that regularly review their health and safety practices see a significant reduction in workplace stress and related issues.

Adjusting strategies based on feedback and new challenges is crucial. If a particular control measure isn’t working as expected, be prepared to modify your approach.

For instance, if flexible work policies are not reducing stress levels, consider additional measures like increased support for mental health or workload adjustments. By staying adaptable and responsive, you can ensure your workplace remains a safe and supportive environment for all employees.

Building a Supportive Workplace Culture

Creating a supportive workplace culture is key to effectively managing psychosocial risks. Start with leadership coaching, which is crucial for equipping leaders with the skills to recognize and respond to psychosocial issues.

Well-trained managers can identify signs of stress or anxiety in their teams and take proactive steps to address these concerns.

Equally important is fostering a culture where employees feel safe to express their concerns. Encourage open communication and make it clear that discussing mental health and workplace stress is not only acceptable but welcomed.

Regular team meetings and anonymous feedback channels can help create this environment. When employees know their voices are heard and valued, they are more likely to share their experiences, allowing for timely and effective interventions.

When you prioritise leadership coaching and employee involvement, you can build a workplace culture that supports mental health and well-being. This approach not only reduces psychosocial risks but also enhances overall job satisfaction and productivity.

Key Takeaway

Managing psychosocial risks in the workplace involves several key steps: identifying hazards, assessing the risks, implementing control measures, and continuously monitoring and reviewing these controls. By engaging with employees, using tools like the People at Work Survey, and observing workplace dynamics, you can identify potential stressors.

Assessing the likelihood and impact of these hazards helps prioritise actions, while implementing tailored control measures ensures a safer environment. Regular reviews and adjustments based on feedback keep your strategies effective.

Taking proactive steps to ensure a healthy working environment is crucial for the well-being of your employees and the success of your business. At Spring Safety, we are committed to helping businesses across Western Australia achieve this goal.

As an award-winning, trusted health and safety consultancy, we offer comprehensive health, safety, environment, and quality solutions. Our methodology has been rigorously tested, and we are recognised by WorkSafe WA and certification bodies for our expertise in auditing and management systems.

We have a team of qualified, experienced consultants with backgrounds in psychology science, teaching and training, so you can be assured screening, interventions and outcomes are evidence based and peer reviewed.

Contact us for your health and safety needs, and let us help you create a supportive and productive workplace. Your team’s well-being is our priority, and we are here to support you every step of the way.



Safe Work Australia. (2024). Psychological health and safety in the workplace. Safe Work Australia – Data Report.


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