Psychological Health and Safety

February 28, 2013 | Nadya Tymochenko

The
Canadian Standards Association (CSA) in partnership with several other
organizations recently released a standard for psychological health and safety
in the workplace.

In
recent years, law makers have recognized the need to improve psychological
health.  For example, Bill 168 amended
the Occupational Health and Safety Act
to include violence and harassment by individuals in the workplace, and Bill
177 amended the Education Act to
include student well-being as a responsibility of school boards.

The
CSA has developed and is advocating that employers implement a psychological
health and safety management system, which includes the following elements: (a)
commitment, leadership and participation; (b) planning; (c) implementation; (d)
evaluation and corrective action; and (e) management review.

The
psychological health and safety management system being promoted by the CSA is
comprehensive and may be a significant challenge for some organizations to
implement.  The CSA has identified the
following reasons for employers to adopt the system: “risk mitigation
(including compliance with existing legislation and regulation), cost
effectiveness, improved ability for recruitment and retention of workers, and
organizational excellence and sustainability.” 

Should
the CSA model psychological health and safety management system be adopted by
many Canadian employers, it may become the standard against which school
boards’ psychological health and safety programs are measured.  A careful review and evaluation of the model
psychological health and safety management system should be undertaken by
school boards to determine whether their current practices, meet, exceed or fall
short of those put forward by the CSA, and whether or not changes to current
practices for promoting and maintaining worker psychological health and safety
in the workplace are warranted.

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