OHS & Psychological Health Victoria

Taryn Heinrich

Employers have a due diligence to ensure compliance regarding mental and psychosocial health in the workplace. This includes acquiring the knowledge to help and understand psychosocial health and its impacts. Processes should be put in place to assist employees where necessary such as understanding hazards and risks in the workplace and evaluating these to lessen the number of incidents and injuries in the workplace.

Legal considerations

Under Victorian OHS laws, an employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to employees’ health. The definition of employees’ health has always included psychological health.

Employers must:

  • Provide and maintain a safe work environment
  • Consult with employees on matters that directly affect or are likely to affect their health or safety including hazards and risks associated with mental health.

Employees must:

  • Take reasonable care for their own health and safety
  • Take reasonable care for the health and safety of people who may be affected by their acts or omissions
  • Co-operate with their employer’s actions to comply with a requirement under the OHS Act

Psychological Health

If an employer identifies one or more of the below psychosocial hazards, an employer must implement a written prevention plan that identifies the risk, identifies measures to control the risk and includes an implementation plan for any identified measures:

  • aggression or violence
  • bullying
  • exposure to traumatic content or events
  • high job demands; or
  • sexual harassment

There is additional reporting required for employers with more than 50 employees which is set out over two reporting periods:

  • January to 30 June (inclusive) of each calendar year; and
  • 1 July to 31 December (inclusive) of each calendar year

Within 30 days after the end of each reporting period, employers with more than 50 employees must submit a de-identified report to WorkSafe Victoria with information about each reportable psychosocial complaint the employer received during the reporting period.

From 1 September 2023, a failure to provide a report to WorkSafe Victoria within 30 days after the end of each reporting period will be punishable by a fine upwards of $10,904 for a natural person and upwards of $54,522 for a body corporate. In other words, if an employer fails to provide a report by 30 January 2024 for the period from July 2023 to December 2023, high penalties will apply.

Employers must also keep a copy of the report for five years, which must be produced for inspection on request. A failure to adhere to these requirements is also punishable by a fine upwards of $10,904 for a natural person and upwards of $54,522 for a body corporate.


Review and determine whether you have implemented reasonably practicable controls as set out in the OHS Act. This can be done by:

  • identifying all existing and potential psychosocial hazards within the workplace
  • reviewing current measures in place to minimise risks to health and safety from psychosocial hazards
  • consider any reportable psychosocial complaints that have been made
  • consult employees as required under section 35 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) in relation to the identification of hazards and control measures for such hazards
  • prepare written implementation plans for any identified control measures; and
  • be prepared to regularly review and assess psychosocial hazards in the workplace and implement any control measures on a continual basis.

Controls measures can include:

  • Ensuring sufficient staffing levels
  • Monitoring workloads during peak periods
  • Consider employees’ skills and abilities when allocating tasks
  • Ensuring adequate work breaks and allowing flexibility in the timing of breaks
  • Consider check-in discussions for emotionally demanding work
  • Engagement/pulse surveys
  • Ensuring managers and direct reports are trained and educated on ways that they can assist
  • Review Position Description’s and employee roles to help guide people to achieve satisfaction in the workplace

Work Safe Victoria has a free online tool to help business leaders promote a mentally healthy workplace and prevent mental injury. It provides policy templates, resources and case studies with step-by-step advice tailored to your business size and industry type.

About The Author
Taryn Heinrich

Taryn’s passion is working with businesses and individuals to bring out their best. Taryn developed her HR generalist skills working on investigations, strategic planning, employment contracts, and developing and implementing HR policies and procedures.

Working closely with your business and employees, Taryn has a distinctive talent for setting people up with the tools they need to do their job safely and helping your business operate successfully. If you need help with anything HR related, Taryn is your go-to person!

On the weekend, you’ll find Taryn spending time with her family and friends – she’s always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

For more useful information, follow Taryn on LinkedIn.

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