Changes to occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation giving greater prominence to work organization, and increased awareness of psychosocial risk factors in the community have changed the role of government OHS inspectors in many countries. However, there has been little systematic investigation into how inspectorates have responded to these challenges. This paper seeks to begin filling this gap.
Drawing on evidence from a four year research project involving four Australian state OHS inspectorates, this paper explores five specific issues. First, how does OHS legislation address psychosocial risks, to what extent have agencies sought to raise awareness of these issues and what resources (specialist inspectors and training) have been put in place? Second, how do inspectors view the increased recognition of psychosocial factors? Third, how have inspectors handled issues of bullying, harassment and occupational violence in the workplace? Fourth, how has fear of victimization affected worker reporting of psychosocial hazards? Fifth, how might the OHS legislation and associated activities be altered to enable more effective interventions in this area?