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The WHS Risk Register and Vicarious Trauma Support Trial

The agency’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) Risk Register was approved by the CEO on 3 December 2019. The WHS Risk Register captures and includes information about activities and environments that might adversely impact the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, contractors and visitors. The WHS Risk Register includes identified hazards and risks in our workplace and the actions that the agency will take to eliminate or minimise the hazards and risks. The WHS Risk Register was developed in consultation with our Directors, employees and Employee Consultative Forum. It includes:

  • 8 risk categories: hazardous manual tasks; psychosocial; slips, trips and falls; electrical; domestic and international travel; traffic; emergencies; and hazardous chemicals
  • 15 risk elements, and 30 additional controls to minimise the hazards and risks identified and ensure the health and safety of workers.

The Vicarious Trauma Support Trial

The nature of the agency’s activities in developing the model WHS laws requires consideration of work-related deaths, injuries and illnesses. Because of this, our employees can be exposed to graphic or distressing content. This has been identified in the agency’s WHS Risk Register as a psychosocial risk to the health and safety of our employees.

To address and minimise this risk, the agency ran a pilot workshop on vicarious trauma for employees at most risk of exposure to potentially distressing material in the workplace. The training, delivered by Phoenix Australia as a half-day workshop, aimed to provide participants with an understanding of vicarious trauma, the early warning signs, and strategies to manage stress and trauma exposure.

In addition to the pilot workshop, the agency is trialling a wellbeing check-in program for employees with our EAP provider and has implemented measures in recruitment processes to ensure candidates understand the working environment and the nature of the work prior to commencing in the agency. We are also currently developing guidance material to support employees and managers and increase awareness of vicarious trauma in the workplace.