March 7, 2024

Mitigating Psychosocial Hazards Within the Workplace

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When working with mentees or supervisees, we often come across the concept of safety: physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual. While there are many ways in which a person’s well-being can be at risk, we are often unaware of them, especially in our workplaces. 

Psychosocial hazards arise from or relate to the design or management of work or a work environment. They concern workplace interactions, behaviours and any situations that may cause psychological harm, whether or not they also cause physical harm. Psychosocial hazards include physical, psychological, social, emotional, and spiritual stresses. Prolonged or severe stress can lead to depression, anxiety, burnout, PTSD, suicide, and other physical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or musculoskeletal disorder. 

At work, the boss, manager, principal, minister or leader is responsible for their employee’s safety. Some leaders take this responsibility to heart, while others attempt to exploit it. The truth is that even the most well-intentioned leaders can miss things. A mentor or supervisor can help highlight these risk areas and devise ways to minimise or eliminate the danger. Let’s take a look at how this can be done.

What leads to these hazards? 

Traumatic events: 

  • Work-related bullying
  • Violence and aggression
  • Abuse and harassment (including sexual abuse and harassment)


  • Low role clarity
  • Low recognition and reward
  • Job demands either too high or too low
  • Low job control by the individual
  • Remote or isolated work
  • Poor organisational justice
  • Poor organisational change management
  • Poor workplace relationships
  • Poor environmental conditions
  • Poor support by co-workers and/ or supervisor 

How can you help your mentees/supervisees with risk management?

Assess risks: 

So, how can you help? You can help by identifying the hazards that make your mentee/supervisee feel this way. Is there too much pressure coming from the boss? Are they under stress because they are the boss? Is there internal conflict within the workplace causing stress? Is a particular person making work difficult for others? 

Mentors/supervisors need to listen for indications that their mentee/supervisee is at risk. This can sound like any of the following:

  • I feel burnt out
  • I don’t know what’s expected of me
  • I don’t know what they want me to do
  • I’m not treated fairly
  • I feel micromanaged
  • I can’t sleep
  • I have too much work to do and too little time

Control risk:

There are many options for controlling and mitigating risk within a workplace. Most begin with making space for conversation which involves encouragement to be transparent and honest. For example, if the mentee/supervisee is overworked and heading towards burnout, they can begin with a conversation with their manager. Perhaps you can suggest they make a list of priorities and ask which tasks they could delete, delegate or defer to a later time. 

If this conversation isn’t met with respect or action, there is a more serious issue. Therefore, a leader should be the first to assess risks and have their employees’ best interests at heart. If an organisation is struggling, a professional supervisor or a mentor, people who are trained to handle workplace hazards, can bring mediation and clarification and recommend ways to mitigate risks. 

Review control measures:

Is the control working? It’s not enough for a yearly workplace checkup or a single session with a supervisor after a workplace hazard occurs. There needs to be a continuous and intentional process of checking the progress of handling hazards. 

A psychosocial audit of your business is often recommended to assess and control risks within the workplace. 

Reflection Questions:

  • What hazards are you facing at work? 
  • Are these hazards due to a traumatic event or cumulative? 
  • What is in your power to change? 
  • Who do you need to have discussions with to control risks? 
  • Are you in a position of responsibility? What are you doing to manage risks?
  • What other well-being risks outside work could be impacting you or your employees? 

Reminder for Mentors/Supervisors: 

It is your duty to probe if you sense there is a risk to safety, and if the risk is severe, you also have the responsibility to take action. While we contract in confidentiality with our mentees, the issues of confidentiality don’t apply when safety is jeopardised. Make sure you are aware of your responsibilities legally and contractually.

In Australia, it is legislated that the people responsible for the business are required to build awareness of all psychosocial hazards and implement processes for their mitigation and management. You can see what Australia is requiring here:

What’s next: 

If you or your employees are concerned about your well-being in the workplace, look at Verve Lead’s information on Professional Supervision for your staff:

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