15 September 2022 posted by Recovery Partners

Primary, secondary and tertiary interventions are different levels of risk control that can be applied to manage psychosocial risks and work-related stress.

Just like physical safety, Australian businesses have an obligation to ensure the psychological safety of their employees.

In fact, the Model Code of Practice provides a definition of psychosocial hazards and clarifying duties in relation to psychosocial risks in the model WHS Regulations. Employers or PCBU’s absolutely have a duty of care to their employees in this regard.

Prevention means anticipating and analysing the various aspects of work to identify psychosocial risks, and then, most importantly, taking action to eliminate or mitigate those risks.

As the old adage goes, prevention Is better than cure.

Primary interventions

Primary interventions are aimed at the organisation and implemented before hazards or harm are present. Therefore, they are proactive measures.

Examples of primary interventions

  • Pre-Employment Health Assessments
    Pre-Employment Health Assessments (PEHA) are the best way to determine if an individual’s health and fitness levels are an appropriate match for a given role and its tasks. The assessment can also identify any risks that may arise when a worker completes their duties.
    The purpose of a PEHA is to learn whether a candidate is a good fit both physically and psychologically for the job.
  • Wellbeing programs
    Recovery Partners provides workplace training based on best-practice and current research evidence from the behavioural science and psychology fields. Training sessions are designed to be innovative and engaging for participants, while promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Providing regular training can be an effective strategy to promote employee safety, resilience and wellbeing. Learn more about our Mental Health Training SafeMinds.
  • Flexible work arrangements
  • Job design
  • Leadership training and professional development opportunities
  • Strong company culture

Secondary Interventions

Secondary interventions are implemented at the workforce level with the aim of early intervention to reduce harm. They are usually aimed at ‘at-risk’ groups or individuals.

It Is widely held that through training, employees can become more aware and knowledgeable about work-related stress, harassment and bullying and therefore better able to address these issues.

Examples of secondary Interventions

  • Employee Assistance Program
    Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a service you can offer your employees that provides them with free, confidential counselling conducted by a registered psychologist. Giving your employees the opportunity to access our EAP in times of emotional hardship will support them to address any personal or work-related issues that may be impacting on their mental health and ability to work at full capacity.
  • Workload adjustments
  • Wellbeing programs

Tertiary interventions

Tertiary interventions are implemented after harm to health. Therefore, they are reactive measures. The aim is to restore the mental health of the worker to enable them to return to work.

Example of tertiary interventions

  • Return to work coordination
    An employee’s return to work following mental illness can be a delicate process that needs to be carefully managed. Recovery Partners offer a complete RTW Coordination service for businesses wanting to manage this process efficiently and with sensitivity to the needs of their employees.
  • Injury Reporting Centre
    Our Injury Reporting Centre (IRC) is a 24-hour service managed by a team of experienced allied health consultants who will streamline all the reporting processes and ensure that all your legal obligationsare met. Reporting an injury promptly can expedite the recovery and return of an injured worker.

With more emphasis on the organisation and work environment rather than the individual, primary and secondary interventions are likely to be more effective.

If your workplace needs support with primary, secondary or tertiary psychosocial interventions, contact us today.

As part of the processes, Recovery Partners reviews and audits policies and procedures. Download our free Psychosocial Document Checklist today. Please note, this checklist is a guide only.


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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/