The New National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace

Canada’s first voluntary National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace was released on January 16th 2013 by the Canadian Standards Association. You can access the the 76 page document by activating the following link >CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ 9700-803/2013

The legal and scientific origins of the new Standard go back to the early 1990’s. See “The Road to Psychological Health and Safety” by Shain, Arnold and GermAnn. The Standard was the result of many months of work by a Technical Committee of more than two dozen stakeholders from all key sectors under the leadership of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), the Bureau de normalization du Quebec (BNQ) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

The Neighbour at Work Centre® is proud to be a leading proponent of the new Standard.

CSA Z1003/ BNQ 9700: A New Concept in Standards

This new standard of care raises the bar for civil, respectful conduct in the workplace. It calls for no negligent, reckless or intentional harm to employee mental health. It requires that employers make every reasonable effort to protect workers’ mental health during the course of employment.

In order to accomplish this, it sets out in detail a new management system in which protection of mental health is an embedded and inseparable part of an organization’s governance and management structure.

When adopted by employers, the Standard expands the current duty of care to provide a safe system of work: it now includes the protection of mental health. This is a development of historical significance in Canada but it follows in the wake of similar developments in the UK and Europe.

The Role of the Neighbour at Work Centre®

The Neighbour at Work Centre consults with employers and unions on implementation of the Standard using a set of guidelines developed specifically for the purpose.

Why consider adopting the Standard?

As this is the very first standard to be developed in Canada in the area of psychological safety at work, it offers employers the opportunity to exercise a leadership role. Canada’s first National Standard  is the product of multi-stakeholder collaboration involving employers, employer associations, unions, government, NGOs, academics and professional consultants.

Two prestigious and nationally recognized authorities, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and Bureau de normalisation du Quebec (BNQ) have recognized the need for this standard in today’s society and come together to co-create it. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is championing it.

What are the benefits of adoption?

  1. Adopting the Standard offers opportunities for cost savings, cost management and improved productivity. We estimate that between 10% and 25% of mental disability costs that currently are directly born by many employers could be avoided. [Actual results depend on severity of baseline conditions and on how comprehensively the Standard is implemented.]
  2. There is less risk of legal liability for acts and omissions which courts and tribunals consider psychologically injurious. For every one officially reported case at least 30 go unreported, making this an increasingly significant source of undeclared and unfunded liability.
  3. People are attracted to psychologically safe environments. Adoptive organizations enjoy an enhanced reputation among potential employee recruits.
  4. People want to stay in psychologically safe environments. Talented employees are retained.
  5. Psychologically safe and healthy workers are more innovative and creative.
  6. Together these benefits translate into competitive advantage.
  7. Because the health or harm created in workplaces migrates to families, communities and society as a whole, the adoption of psychologically safe workplace policies and practices are a demonstration of good Corporate Social Responsibility.

Vital Workplace©: the Standard in Action

The ultimate goal of the law and of the Standard is to provide and sustain a workplace culture in which there is

  • zero tolerance for mentally injurious conduct and
  • strong support for respectfulness and fairness. 

The work team or unit is one arena in which psychological safety is of great importance and where it is most likely to impact upon the mental health and effectiveness of employees.

Workplace teams and how well they function are at the heart of a workplace culture.

Vital Workplace© is a unique process for assessing and addressing psychological health and safety issues and concerns in teams and work units according to the requirements of the new standard. More>


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