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Psychological Health & safety – An action guide for employers

Successful company with happy employees in modern officeThis Action Guide is based on the idea of protecting employees’ psychological health and safety. We are all familiar with the need to protect physical health and safety in the workplace; it is enshrined in Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) regulations, legislation and business practice. Enormous progress has been made over the last 100 years in decreasing rates of accidents and illness related to risks posed by workplace conditions or worker behaviours.

But a new realization has dawned: the protection of workers also includes attending to their psychological (mental) health and safety (PH&S) in the workplace. Just as employers have worked with human resources professionals, occupational health experts and organized labour representatives to reduce workplace risks to physical health, many organizations are now similarly committed to identifying and reducing workplace risks of psychological injury or illness, for the same reasons:

  • high rates of illness or injury leading to possible loss of skilled employees
  • regulatory or legal sanctions for failing to recognize and make reasonable efforts to avert work-related injuries or incidents
  • escalating costs related to increased benefits utilization, lost productivity, recruitment and replacement expenses, and insurance premiums
  • negative impact on employee morale and engagement, customer and client relations, and organizational reputation

This has created the awareness that PH&S is a critical aspect of occupational health and safety. The aim is to create a psychologically healthy workplace, one that supports the psychological health of employees in a manner that also furthers the goals of the organization. Promoting psychological health for the entire workforce is an excellent strategy for reducing the risk of psychological harm. A psychologically healthy workplace helps keep workers safe, engaged and productive. Addressing psychological health and safety is critically important.

A good PH&S strategy benefits employers, affecting workforce stability, productivity, insurance costs, risk of legal or regulatory sanctions, and the financial bottom line. It also benefits employees, with an enormous impact upon their health, morale, worklife quality and ability to perform at their highest capacity. And, it is important to Canada, a country dependent on psychologically healthy workers and workplaces.

By accessing and using this guide, you demonstrate your commitment to protecting PH&S in your workplace. Whether your organization is in the early stages of planning a PH&S initiative or is building on existing programs, yours is amongst the forward-thinking Canadian workplaces that understand the connection between psychological health and productivity, sustainability and profitability. In times of rising workplace pressures (increased competitiveness, a faster pace and tighter economy), creating an environment where workers flourish benefits both the overall organization and the bottom line. Your organization’s capacity to respond effectively to changing markets and new ways of doing business will be significantly enhanced if managers and staff are not hampered by poor psychological coping skills or mental health problems.

This action guide provides a logical approach to moving forward with PH&S strategies. We are still in an early stage of understanding this complex area, but we are making progress in identifying effective strategies through research and innovative workplace programs. This guide is based on the best and most comprehensive information currently available.

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