The Canadian Standards Association, the Bureau de normalisation
du Québec and the Mental Health Commission of Canada have
released a new National Standard for psychological health and
safety in the workplace (currently available for free download).
The Standard was developed to help organizations create and sustain
psychologically healthy and safe workplaces. While compliance with
the Standard is not currently required by law, its voluntary
implementation may help employers avoid legal issues arising from
human rights and/or occupational health and safety concerns.
The National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety
in the Workplace
The Standard provides a framework for organizations to create
and/or improve a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. This
framework mandates the following:
Identification and elimination of psychological hazards in the
Assessment and control of risks that cannot be eliminated;
Implementation of structures and practices that promote
psychological health and safety in the workplace; and
Fostering a workplace culture that promotes psychological
health and safety in the workplace.
The Standard further lays out a step-by-step approach to
implementing a psychological health and safety management system in
the workplace. The key steps are as follows:
Planning, which involves the identification of
hazards, risks, legal requirements, management system gaps, and
opportunities for improvement.
Implementation, which involves ensuring that
Has the infrastructure and resources necessary to achieve
conformity with the Standard;
Has adequate preventive and protective measures in place to
address the hazards and risks identified during the planning
Establishes and sustains processes to improve education,
awareness, and communication about psychological health and safety
in the workplace;
Develops governance processes and documentation requirements to
ensure the effective implementation of the Standard;
Provides training, coaching and support to employees; and,
Has procedures for reporting and investigation related to
psychological health and safety incidents.
Evaluation and corrective action, which
involves monitoring and measuring the workplace's performance
in the achievement of targets set during the planning stage,
conducting internal audits, and taking preventive and corrective
action where necessary.
The Standard provides two implementation models. The first
assumes that an organization already has the required commitment
and stakeholder engagement necessary for the progressive
implementation of the Standard. The other assumes that senior
leadership in an organization has not yet committed to the
Standard, and focuses on providing tools for demonstrating the
value of psychological health and safety standards to the
organization in order to increase organization-wide
As the Standard was introduced by the CSA it is not law, and an
employer's legal obligations with respect to psychological
health and safety are still only partially addressed in the Occupational
Health and Safety Act and the Human Rights
Code. However, any employers adopting and
following the Standard will help themselves comply with such
legislation and, if the Standard achieves what it aims to, such
employers may also find employee morale improves and turnover
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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