According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada: “30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses. It is clearly in our best interest to ensure the psychological safety of our employees.
- Psychological hazards are hazards that pose a risk to mental health and impact a worker’s ability to work in a healthy and safe manner.
- These hazards may also be referred to as psychosocial hazards, hazards that involve the combined effect of psychological factors and the surrounding social environment.
- Some jurisdictions may only refer to work place stress (i.e. stress leave) when considering psychological injuries.
- We will refer to all of these as psychological hazards and injuries.
Psychological Hazards at Work
Organizational Factors: Violence and harassment, physical and social work conditions, change, expectations, support, working alone, work structure and hours of work.
Personal factors: Substance abuse, mental illness, work-life conflicts and age factors.
Preventing Psychological Injuries
- Safety policies should explicitly recognize psychological wellbeing;
- Hazard and risk assessments should include the psychological hazards that are likely be encountered in the workplace;
- Workers and supervisors must be trained to recognize psychological hazards and injuries and how to deal with them;
- Psychological incidents and near misses must be reported and investigated;
- The work environment and the capabilities of workers must be considered in work design; and
- Communication strategies should be implemented that encourage feedback about working conditions and mental health issues.
Psychological injuries are prevalent and costly. Open communication with employees on mental health issues, confidentiality and effective employee assistance program can assist in controlling psychological hazards.
Psychological hazards are not just in our heads, they’re real
The following materials or websites were used in the preparation of this newsletter and can be accessed if you require additional information:
EU OSHA Psychosocial risks and stress at work
Alberta Government BP-024-1 – Psychological hazards in the workplace
InUnison HSM SWPs Violence and Harassment Prevention
Please contact your InUnison safety representative if you require any assistance with your psychological wellness program or your health and safety system.
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