Low Job Control - Controlling the Risk

Low Job Control is a key psychosocial hazard. It refers to when workers do not have enough - or have little - control over key aspects of their work. This includes how or when a job is done. It also refers to situations when decisions are made that affect a worker without a worker being consulted on and told about the changes. Remember, under section 35 of the OHS act HSR's and workers must be consulted on matters relating to health and safety. If low job control is an issue in your workplace, you need to be consulted on changes to systems to address this hazard. 

Examples of this hazard include: 

  • Work being micro-managed. This means that managers engage in excessive monitoring of tasks and expect tasks - even the simplest of tasks - to only be done in one way.
  • Computer or machine based work.
  • Tightly managed and highly controlled work.
  • Workers having little say over work processes and systems including when they can take breaks, how they do work or when they can change tasks.
  • Workers and HSR's are not consulted on decisions that affect them. 
  • Unpredictable working hours.
  • Little control over clients or customers that display aggression or are distressed and abusive. 

Examples of control measures include: 

  • Have a strong union culture and elected union HSR's trained and able to bring up psychosocial hazards when they arise and compel management to act.
  • Putting consultation measures in place that ensure that workers are consulted on their work and enable meaningful input into work and organisational issues.
  • Put systems in place that allow for cooperative approaches to descision making. Workers should have input into their work. 
  • Involve workers in the allocation of responsibility for tasks within a team.
  • Ensure appropriate staffing levels for the work that needs to be done and allocate work accordingly. 
  • Design work systems so that there is sufficient job variation and rotation. 
  • Train managers to be supportive leaders and to be aware and proactive about their obligations under the OH&S Act to provide a safe workplace. 

Additional resources on Low Job Control:

Safe Work Australia's topic page on low job control

WorkSafe's topic page on low job control

Mind Your Head has an excellent database on psychosocial hazards. It breaks down hazards into their impacts and the risk assessment and control measures that can be used. Find it here.

Updated July 2023