Why psychosocial safety should be front of mind this National Safe Work Month


Sonder, a leading wellbeing and safety company, is urging employers to make psychosocial safety a top priority this National Safe Work Month.

Observed every October, National Safe Work Month is an annual Safe Work Australia campaign that encourages businesses, employers, and workers to commit to building a safe and healthy workplace. 

According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety are estimated to cost the global economy US $1 trillion each year, driven predominantly by lost productivity. Safe Work Australia figures show that each year around 7,820 Australians are compensated for a work-related mental condition and that $480 million is paid in compensation for work-related mental health disorders in Australia. 

Safe Work Australia defines psychosocial hazards as anything at work that could harm someone’s mental health, including job demands, low job control, poor support, lack of role clarity, violence and aggression, and bullying. Under model WHS laws, employers have a responsibility to do everything they reasonably can to prevent exposure to psychosocial hazards and risks.

Sonder-commissioned research suggests that employees are experiencing aggression from customers, colleagues and managers - and left feeling unsupported afterwards. 

Sonder partnered with McGregor Tan to survey more than 1,025 Australian workers who were working a minimum of 20 hours per week. The survey revealed that 62 per cent of employees have experienced aggression from customers, 44 per cent from colleagues, and 35 per cent from managers. Nearly one in two survey respondents reported receiving zero support after incidents of workplace aggression.

The survey also overwhelmingly showed that employees expect organisations to make mental health a priority, with 92 per cent of respondents considering it important for their next employer to offer mental wellbeing support.

Sonder chief executive officer Craig Cowdrey said that taking a systemic and evidence-based approach toward preventing and managing psychosocial risks at work is good for business.

“Managing and preventing psychosocial risks is not only a responsibility for employers, but also makes sound business sense. Forward-thinking employers recognise that their employees expect and deserve greater control of their working environment and conditions. They are actively working with their team members to co-create and promote a mentally healthy workplace culture,” he said. 

There have been several recent global developments in the work health and safety space with respect to managing psychological hazards and risks in the workplace. The World Health Organization recently released its first-ever guidelines on mental health at work. These guidelines provide evidence-based global public health guidance on organizational interventions, manager and worker training,and individual interventions for the promotion of positive mental health and prevention of mental health conditions.

This follows last year’s release of ISO 45003, the first global standard that provides specific guidance on the management of psychosocial hazards and risks in a manner consistent with other health and safety risks in the workplace.

To help organisations navigate the new landscape of WHS rules around psychological safety, Sonder has recently released an update to its free ISO 45003 guide to capture recent reforms, including the introduction of clauses on controlling psychosocial risks in the national model WHS Regulations. Sonder’s guide provides HR leaders with a clear overview of what the ISO guidelines mean for managing psychosocial risks in the workplace.

Sonder’s comprehensive guide, A simple overview of ISO 45003, is available to download now. 


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About Sonder: Sonder is a leading Australian wellbeing and safety company accredited by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS). Our solution is a technology-driven platform supported by 24/7 safety, medical, and mental health experts. This is backed up by a physical responder network that can be onsite for complex scenarios, plus a capability to deliver unique and timely data insights which drive meaningful business decisions

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