Fishing vessel SMS needs to include a psychosocial safety risk assessment

With mental health and wellness now top of mind, it’s understandable that new Worksafe WA regulations require psychosocial hazards to be included in a safety management system for fishing vessels.

Workplace psychosocial hazards are related to the psychological and social conditions of the workplace, rather than just the physical conditions. As such, an employer must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other people are not exposed to risks to their psychological safety and health.

Psychosocial hazards are things such as stress, fatigue and burnout, as well as bullying, harassment, violence and aggression, discrimination and misconduct. These are not thought of as an injury, but if it becomes frequent, prolonged or severe, it can cause psychological and physical harm.

This requirement is part of the general duty of care for an owner to provide and maintain a work environment without risks to safety and health. The Occupational Safety and Health Act also contains general duties and responsibilities placed upon people to ensure their own safety at work, and that of others who are at the workplace or who might be injured by the work.

An employer must eliminate psychosocial risks in the workplace, or if that is not reasonably practicable, minimise these risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

Workers are likely to be exposed to a combination of work-related psychosocial hazards and risk factors, and these may interact with non-work related factors, making this a complex and multi-faceted area.

Worksafe WA provides practical guidance on the processes an employer could use to identify and manage psychosocial hazards at work. You can find the guide here.