National Safe Work Month - Week Two Insights
To mark National Safe Work Month we're sharing insights into recent Psychosocial Hazards legislation changes, and how leaders can best understand the impact, and how they are related to organisational change in the workplace
In Week One we talked about the different jurisdictions, and Codes of Practice, as well as the need for leaders and change managers to understand their obligations.
This week is the special focus for Safe Work Month is on mental health and it's fitting that we zero in on more of the details of the psychosocial hazard legislation and what is absolutely essential for leaders of change to know:
4. Know your hazards from your risks
It's easy to get confused in a world of WHS terminology but learning two definitions will help you to really uncover the core of this legislation and why organisational change is so deeply connected to it's the legislation purpose.
Two key updates to definitions were made as part of this legislative change:
A psychosocial hazard is a hazard that arises from, or relates to, the design or management of work, a work environment, plant at a workplace or workplace interactions and behaviours and may cause psychological harm, whether or not the hazard may also cause physical harm.
A Psychosocial Risk is a risk to the health and safety of a worker or other person from a psychosocial hazard.
Psychosocial hazards cause harm when worker’s experience a frequent, prolonged and/or severe stress* response. This means the harm might happen in one sudden event, or over a period of time with frequent smaller but harmful happenings.
*(Stress is defined as a person’s psychological response (e.g. feelings of anxiety, tension) and physiological response (e.g. the release of stress hormones, or their cardiovascular response) in relation to work demands or threats. Note the two elements of stress here.)
5. Sort your psychosocial safety from your psychological safety
While courses, articles and books abound on the topic of psychological safety, it's been easy for it be confused with psychosocial safety since the topic of psychosocial safety has come to fore in the last year or two.
Simply put, psychological safety is a leadership construct. It's a concept developed by Amy Edmonston in 1999, tested by Google with Project Aristotle, and expanded since then with a great quadrant model that encourages organisations to progressively develop to build more respect and trust in their teams. At Timbs and Co we often work through this process with clients to improve their culture prior to larger changes, and it's highly effective.
Psychosocial safety enables people to feel safe, valued, and supported (with respectful and trust) with minimal exposure to psychosocial and physical hazards. It is supported by the systems and workplace factors that enable a person to work in an environment that is safe and free from harm from these hazards.
So you can see we want to have psychological safety within our psychosocially safe workplace, through respectful and trusting relationships. But we need more than just the psychological safety to achieve the requirements of psychosocial safety. Psychological safety is great but not the silver bullet.
Want to know more about the difference between psychosocial and psychological safety? Check out our handy explainer here.
We will be back next week with more insights into the legislation, what it means, and how leaders and change practitioners can best understand it to deliver effective change outcomes.
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