Numerous environmental factors might affect a workers psychological health. Hazards such as noise, vibration and cold workplaces aren't just physical, they can have a severe effect on workers psychological health and wellbeing. Your employer must consult you when addressing environmental hazards in your workplace and consider both the psychological and physical health impacts of these conditions.
Poor environmental conditions are a serious psychosocial hazards. Examples of this hazard can include:
- Poor air quality
- Poor lighting
- Poor ergonomics
- Extreme temperatures in the workplaces
- Unsanitary or insufficient workplace hygiene facilities
- High or disturbing noise levels
But really, many more exposure or physical hazards can have psychological impacts. Considering this, controlling the psychological hazard of poor environmental conditions overlaps with many physical and exposure controls. For example The OHS Regulations require employers to control certain hazards in line with specific hierarchies of control eg. noise, plant, hazardous substances and hazardous manual handling.
Some risk signs to look out for in your workplace are:
- physical work health and safety procedures, including audits and regular risk assessments, are not done
- workers aren’t given the equipment and resources they need to do their work safely
- the work environment isn’t monitored to test for decibel levels, air quality, and so on
- workers do not receive information, instruction and training on how to perform hazardous tasks or how risks can be eliminated or appropriately controlled
Some additional ways to control poor environmental conditions include:
- A dedicated space away from the poor environment where workers can take a break
- Optimise lighting, temperature and use noise reducing barriers.
- Ensure good ventilation and air quality see our ventilation page for more information.
- Provide ergonomic equipment and furniture
- Maintain clean and well-maintained facilites
- Address issues such as unpleasant odours, cleanliness, and functioning amenities
- Regular equipment maintenance
- Consult workers on the layout and conditions of the workplace.
Useful resources on environmental conditions as a psychosocial hazard
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.
Specific hazard pages from the OHSReps website on common environmental hazards
Uncomfortable or poorly fitting personal protective equipment
Updated July 2023