SafeWork NSW announces psychosocial blitz
The Sector > Quality > Compliance > SafeWork NSW announces psychosocial hazard blitz on large employers

SafeWork NSW announces psychosocial hazard blitz on large employers

by Michael Selinger, Partner, and Annelise Harper, Graduate, Holding Redlich

July 08, 2024

If you are an early learning or childcare provider operating in New South Wales with 200 or more employees, SafeWork NSW may target you in the next 12 months as it implements its Psychological Health and Safety Strategy 2024–2026 (Strategy) to ensure compliance with new psychosocial hazard laws.


Released in May, the Strategy emphasises that SafeWork NSW will increase regulatory action against high-risk and large businesses, including early childhood providers across the state.


More specifically, SafeWork inspectors will conduct ‘psychosocial WHS checks’ when visiting a provider with 200 or more employees. Providers that fail to comply with their work health and safety (WHS) duties will face regulatory action and a potential WHS prosecution in the case of a serious or repeated breach.


It is essential that early learning providers are prepared for these inspections.


What is a psychosocial hazard?


A psychosocial hazard is an aspect of the work environment that may induce a stress response in a worker or other person, leading to psychological or physical harm. Early learning and childcare centres are considered high-stress environments, with teachers looking after large numbers of children. 


Psychosocial hazards may arise from:


  • the design or management of an early learning centre
  • the requirement to undertake tasks involving an inherent psychosocial hazard or risk in classrooms
  • the requirement to perform tasks in a physically hazardous classroom setting or outdoors
  • social factors such as workplace interactions or behaviours with children, parents, or other teachers.


Common psychological hazards include work overload, bullying, harassment, lack of role clarity, children with behavioural issues, and exposure to traumatic events.


What are the duties of an employer?


Under WHS laws, employers at early learning centres have a positive duty to manage psychosocial risks within their workplace. 


To discharge its duty, a centre must implement control measures that eliminate the psychosocial risk, or where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate the risk, minimise the psychosocial risk so far as reasonably practicable for educators.


In light of the Strategy, it is essential that centres review the effectiveness of the current control measures in place to manage psychosocial risks and assess that against the controls recommended in the SafeWork NSW code of practice, Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work. In assessing what control measures to implement, a centre should consider the:


  • duration, frequency and severity of a worker’s exposure to a psychological hazard
  • potential interaction or combination of several psychological hazards
  • design of the work, including the demands of the job
  • systems in place to manage, organise and support work
  • design, layout and environmental conditions within the centre 
  • plant, substances and structures at the centre 
  • interactions and behaviours in the centre 
  • information, training, instruction and supervision of workers.


Several legislative changes in other states and territories, led by the federal safety regulator SafeWork Australia, have resulted in new codes and regulations for managing the risk of psychosocial hazards in the workplace. The states and territories are at different stages of implementing the Model Code and the Model Regulations.


If you have any questions, please get in touch with Holding Redlich Partner Michael Selinger at [email protected]




The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.

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