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De-Coding the Psychological Health and Safety Standard

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

Many provinces and territories have new or existing legislation making physical, psychological and social health of employees both a duty and right for both the employer and employee. The Canadian Standards Association (now the CSA Group) has put forth a voluntary Psychological Health and Safety Standard for employers. In fact, Canada is the first country in the world to have a Standard of this kind. And now, we have an amazing international standard as well.

Many employers are taking steps to support psychological health and safety, yet few have comprehensive, evaluated approaches in place. For many, compliance with the standard can seem like a daunting task. We don’t blame you for feeling a little intimidated. The Standard itself is 75 pages and the implementation guide is 160 pages long. And if you are like most professionals or practitioners tasked with supporting employee health and well-being – you are likely wearing a few hats and trying to connect the dots between the Standard, changing legislation, employee wants and needs, corporate demands etc. But, don’t worry, we are here to simplify things and support you along the way.

So, let’s break it down. The following contains the most relevant pieces needed to make a real impact.

Intent of the Standard

Support employers in creating a workplace that “actively works to prevent harm to worker psychological health, including in negligent, reckless, or intentional ways, and promotes psychological well-being.”

The Drivers

· Risk mitigation;

· Cost effectiveness;

· Recruitment and retention; and

· Organizational excellence and sustainability.

The Process

The standard outlines a process of how to foster a workplace to actively promote psychological well-being, prevent harm and have resolution processes in place. This process is common for many organizational initiatives and can seem daunting. In our opinion, if you are following a rigorous process, you may as well do it to create a culture of well-being and performance at the same time.

The Steps

1. Commit: Get a policy in place, get leadership on board (use a business case if needed), and inspire employees to get involved.

2. Develop a plan

  • Gather information based on what you are already doing. This short checklist can be a helpful tool.

  • Develop a collective vision and conduct assessments and audits that allow you to celebrate strengths and discover opportunities. Make this easy by integrating it into your existing OHS mechanisms.

  • Assess current risks (using a psycho-social risk assessment as a part of your regular OHS practices) and develop risk mitigation strategies.

  • Assess the 13 psycho-social factors (and any other relevant factors unique to your organization or industry) with an employee survey and identify ways used to promote psychological health. Note, members of Wellness Works receive an assessment and tailored recommendations that address these factors, overall well-being and productivity (we like to keep things simple so often tag on questions to your usual engagement survey if you use one). Or you can use this free assessment and do it in-house.

  • Collect data (absenteeism, turnover, disability, employee engagement, organizational audit, EFAP usage, HRA data etc.). The list of options is long, but you can pick what is relevant for your organization. Note, if you become a member, we will help you drill this list down based on an assessment with a simple but thorough evaluation scorecard.

  • Develop objectives and targets based on the assessment and data collected. Note, Wellness Works members get support in developing a strategy map with measurable objectives and targets.

  • Develop an action plan based on the objectives using a change leadership process that allows for proper employee engagement and thorough communication.

3. Implement ensuring appropriate resources have been allocated and that staff have appropriate time allocated to commit to actions using a change management approach. Use preventative and protective measures.

  • Educate, communicate and ensure awareness using multifaceted approaches.

  • Have leadership actively champion the work.

  • Ensure there are clear roles and responsibilities defined and that change is documented.

  • Provide orientation, training and coaching for employees so they can meet the requirements and contribute to fostering psychological health and safety.

  • Have a critical event preparedness process in place for individuals and the organization (i.e.-what is the response you will have to events at, or outside of, work to bullying, harassment, death of a family member, etc.).

  • Make sure OHS has processes in place for reporting and investigating psychological health and safety incidents that address the root cause. Clearly communicate these processes.

4. Evaluation and corrective action

  • Regularly audit using the checklist provided in the Standard.

  • Assess if targets are being met and compare against the baseline data you collected in step two.

  • Ensure there are preventive and correction actions in place as a part of your regular OHS procedures for any issues (i.e.: non-conformance, new hazards, etc.).

5. Management review and continual improvement

  • Review if the process achieved its outcomes, resulted in conformance and was successful.

  • Improve the plan.

At Wellness Works Canada, we believe that taking an integrated approach to improving employee well-being and organizational performance is the most efficient way to make a big impact. If you would like support to create a healthy, high-performing work culture that embraces psychological health and safety -- become a partner member to access simple, cost-effective, evidence-informed support, education, tools and resources.

What are you waiting for? Sign up online at




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