The Key to Implementing Safe Work Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice Controls

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The Key to Implementing Safe Work Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice Controls

In today’s work environment, ensuring the well-being of employees has become a top priority. Work Health and Safety Officers play a pivotal role in driving positive changes within organisations, aiming to create a culture of Psychological Safety. This culture, in turn, reduces the risk of workplace bullying, all while aligning with the Safe Work Australia Managing Psychosocial Hazard at Work Code of Practice 2022. This code is a vital tool, binding organisations under the Victorian and harmonised national Work Health and Safety legislation’s duty of care. Its primary objective is to eliminate the risk of psychological injury within the workplace.

The code of practice does more than just identify necessary behavioural changes; it also evaluates risks using established work health and safety risk management procedures. Moreover, it entrusts organisations with the responsibility of controlling these risks and monitoring them. Organisations are encouraged to collaborate with their workers to develop and review control measures, making everyone accountable for implementation.

Creating and implementing these controls can be a challenging task. However, early conflict resolution, supported by emotional awareness and authentic leadership, can effectively manage workplace bullying stemming from conflicts that escalate.

Additionally, improved job design and fostering positive organizational behaviour play significant roles in maintaining a harmonious workplace.

Early conflict resolution processes should consider both task-related and personal conflicts. Task-related conflicts can be resolved through fair compromises, but not all power relationships are equal. This can lead to accommodation, competition, or avoidance, which rarely resolves issues as effectively as collaboration. In such cases, task-related discussions can easily devolve into personal conflicts fueled by emotions. While this is a natural process, it’s crucial to prevent emotional conflicts from spiralling into repeated workplace bullying. To do so, employees should be equipped with the skills to resolve personal conflicts before they escalate.

Also Read: Using the Safe Work Psychosocial Hazard Code of Practice to Stop Workplace Bullying

The key to resolution lies in acknowledging emotional involvement as a natural aspect of conflicts and addressing emotional needs, whether real or perceived, before returning to task-related discussions. In extreme cases, individual training or counselling may be necessary, but in most workplace situations, emotional awareness and early conflict resolution processes can be effectively trained and implemented.

Emotional awareness skills are essential for early conflict resolution. Parties involved in conflicts must be able to recognise non-verbal emotional cues in themselves and others, which can greatly impact communication. Emotional awareness also helps identify the influence of personal biases and self-interests, which may be perceived as unfair. By developing emotional awareness, individuals can recognise and address unreasonable behaviours that pose risks to health and safety. Adherence to positive behaviour codes, procedures, and training can effectively control and prevent discrimination and personalised conflicts, ultimately reducing the likelihood of workplace bullying. Emotional awareness is a skill that can be acquired and honed with regular practice and support.

Authentic leadership leverages emotional awareness to build strong relationships, inspire teams, and foster integrity in decision-making. Authentic leaders prioritise principles over short-term gains, making them well-suited for strategic performance management. They ensure that job designs align with the organisation’s strategic objectives, set achievable targets, and provide the necessary resources and training to achieve long-term organisational goals. These leadership skills are particularly valuable
when external guidance is needed for conflict mediation during early personal conflict resolution. Becoming an authentic leader is a skill that can be developed by any manager willing to invest in personal growth.

Work Health and Safety Officers hold the key to preventing workplace bullying before it occurs. Empathyse has developed comprehensive online workplace bullying solutions, offering AI education, training, policy templates, and employment contract resources to effectively control the risks outlined in the Psychosocial Code of Practice.

Kevin Gilmore-Burrell LLB MBA, with over two decades of experience as a business lawyer, is currently researching workplace bullying and developing Empathyse® web-based solutions for organisations of all sizes. His mission is to create a safer and healthier work environment for all, and he is pursuing a PhD at the University of Newcastle to further this cause.

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