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National Standard of Canada for psychological health and safety in the workplace

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Bureau denormalisation du Québec (BNQ), and CSA Group have officially released Canada’s first national standard designed to help organizations and their employees improve workplace psychological health and safety. The National Standard of Canada titled Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation is a voluntary standard focused on promoting employees’ psychological health and preventing psychological harm due to workplace factors.

“One in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or mental illness in any given year and many of the most at risk individuals are in their early working years. Canadians spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else,” says MHCC President and CEO Louise Bradley. “It’s time to start thinking about mental well-being in the same way as we consider physical well-being, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace.”

The Standard provides a systematic approach to develop and sustain a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, including:

  • he identification of psychological hazards in the workplace;
  • The assessment and control of the risks in the workplace associated with hazards that cannot be eliminated (e.g. stressors due to organizational change or reasonable job demands);
  • The implementation of practices that support and promote psychological health and safety in the workplace;
  • The growth of a culture that promotes psychological health and safety in the workplace;
  • The implementation of measurement and review systems to ensure sustainability.

“This voluntary national standard is the result of a collaborative effort between MHCC, BNQ and CSA Group, and is supported by scientific literature from many relevant areas of workplace health and safety, social science, and law. There is also a clear business case which supports the need for continual improvement of psychological health and safety in the workplace,” says Bonnie Rose, President, Standards, CSA Group. “Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety have improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, and a better financial outlook.”

The voluntary Standard is not intended to be adopted into federal, provincial, or territorial legislation. It can be used differently by businesses and organizations of all sizes depending upon their needs. Some businesses may use the Standard as a starting point and focus on creating policies and processes to promote mental health, while others may determine that several aspects of the Standard are already in place and use the Standard to build upon their existing efforts.

“This Standard will help enable organizations to introduce measures that will assist them in meeting important internal objectives such as the promotion and protection of workers’ well-being, job satisfaction, self-esteem and job fulfilment – objectives which have been clearly shown to also lead to improvement in the ‘bottom line’,” says Jean Rousseau, Director, Bureau de normalisation duQuébec. The development of this Standard was funded in part by the Government of Canada (through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Health Canada, and the Public Health Agency of Canada), and through financial contributions from the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and Bell Canada.

The Standard has been approved by the Standards Council of Canada as a National Standard of Canada. The document can be found here: the National Standard of Canada titled Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation .