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Australian work health and safety policy for the regulation of psychosocial risks: perspectives from key informants

Potter, Rachael Elise; O'Keeffe, Valerie; Leka, Stavroula; Dollard, Maureen


Rachael Elise Potter

Valerie O'Keeffe

Stavroula Leka

Maureen Dollard


The regulation of psychosocial hazards and risks, for the protection of psychological health, is a highly debated issue within work health and safety (WHS). Increasing work-related psychological illness and injury, alongside growing academic evidence and community awareness, has fuelled the need to better prevent and regulate psychosocial hazards and risks. Research must clarify challenges and improvements to policy and practice from stakeholder perspectives. We conduct a qualitative interview-based investigation with 25 informed participants on the effectiveness of Australian WHS policies for the psychosocial risk regulation. Participants are active in diverse roles including policy development, program implementation, industry advice, and psychosocial risk inspection. Inductive analysis revealed divergent viewpoints that are categorised into three broad themes: (1) scant specificity in the current regulatory WHS policy framework, (2) compliance complexities, and (3) the role of regulators in action. Tension points also emerged between these themes and sub-themes, including: (a) how psychosocial risks should be addressed in legislation, (b) how to establish compliance, and (c) the role of the regulator in evaluating compliance, and facilitating education and better practice. Future research must continue to disseminate knowledge from WHS informants to guide better practice. Researchers should investigate organisational barriers that hinder WHS psychosocial risk regulation.


Potter, R. E., O'Keeffe, V., Leka, S., & Dollard, M. (2019). Australian work health and safety policy for the regulation of psychosocial risks: perspectives from key informants. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 17(2), 112-132.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 3, 2019
Online Publication Date Apr 5, 2019
Publication Date Apr 5, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 22, 2019
Publicly Available Date Apr 6, 2020
Journal Policy and Practice in Health and Safety
Print ISSN 1477-3996
Electronic ISSN 1477-4003
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 17
Issue 2
Pages 112-132
Keywords Regulation, psychosocial hazards, psychosocial risks, work health and safety, psychological health
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Policy and Practice in Health and Safety on 5 April 2019, available online:


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