Victoria prioritises workplace protection from psychological harm with new regulations
The Victorian Government has introduced new regulations to better prevent workplace psychological hazards and injuries.
Minister for Workplace Safety Ingrid Stitt announced the priority reforms earlier this week ahead of her meeting with state, territory and federal counterparts at the Work Health and Safety Ministers’ meeting.
The regulations will strengthen the occupational health and safety framework by providing clearer guidance to employers, including those in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector on their obligations to better protect workers from mental injury.
The changes will put psychological hazards on the same footing as physical ones – recognising that they can be just as harmful to workers’ safety and wellbeing, and come after data showed that WorkCover mental injury claims have grown significantly in recent years, and are expected to account for a third of all workers’ compensation claims by 2030.
The regulations align with and bolster the Victorian Government’s broader agenda to prevent and better respond to safety risks in Victorian workplaces, including through the Ministerial Taskforce on Workplace Sexual Harassment.
Several recent reviews in this domain have recommended strengthening workplace health and safety laws to better address workplace psychological health, including the Review of Model WHS Laws (Boland Review) and the [email protected] report.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System’s final report also highlighted the need to improve education and awareness around psychological health to build safe and healthy workplaces and prevent mental injury.
The Government will consult widely with industry, community and workers on the development of the new regulations and engage closely with employers ahead of commencement to ensure they understand these important obligations.
“The impact of a mental health injury can often be less obvious – but is no less serious – than a physical one,” Ms Stitt explained. “That’s why we’re making these changes to protect workers and ensure they are safe when on the job.”
“We’re making it clear to every employer that the responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace means one that is free from psychological and physical harm.”