International Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (ISO 45003)

We’ve been increasingly hearing about a mental health workplace crisis for a number of years now and that was before we all faced perhaps one of the most stressful and challenging years in recent history.  Research suggests that issues with our mental health have soared during the Covid-19 pandemic. As we emerge from the pandemic, organisations need to increase their focus on psychological health and safety in order to enable the recovery of their employees.

Emerging mental health crisis?

As a nation the issues that we now face are threefold:

  • we are still very much dealing with a global pandemic;
  • the impact of a global recession is going to be felt for many years to come;
  • there is a tidal wave of mental health issues arising from the past 12 months, many of which are yet to be fully realised.

We need to act now as we begin the process of re-entering the workplace to prepare offices to be environments that not only sustain employee’s psychological health and safety, but that also go someway to promote our health and wellbeing.  We need to be able to thrive at work.

One of the main benefits that has arisen out of the pandemic and the change in the ways of working has been a far more human-centred approach by businesses towards their employees.  The pandemic has brought about a far greater awareness of our psychological health and just how fragile this can be.  Within this, there is an increasing understanding that no matter the size or shape of an organisation, they are likely to be facing complex health and well-being issues now and well into the future.

ISO 45003 – a framework for managing psychosocial risk

June 2021 will see the release of ISO 45003, which is the first global standard giving practical guidance on managing psychological health and safety in the workplace.  Never before has there been such a need for a formal structure around managing mental and psychological health in our work environments. 

Adopting a framework for managing psychological health and safety such as that recommended by ISO 45003, will help to provide a roadmap for businesses to navigate the route out of the pandemic and towards re-integration of people into workplaces, with the focus on ensuring the psychological safety of their employees as they adapt to new ways of working once again.

What does ISO 45003 cover?

The standard offers practical steps and ‘best practice’ for how to manage psychological health on all levels within an organisation.  At the forefront of these standards is the need to consider employees as humans, all with differing needs and likely differing reactions to situations, whilst stressing the importance of our lives outside of work and the interdependency of our home and work environments.

Within this global standard is information on how to recognise the kinds of ‘psychosocial hazards’ that can impact upon employees.  Psychosocial hazards are areas of risk that have the potential for psychological and physical harm, such as aspects of work tasks, work organisation, management, work environment and organisational conditions. 

Clear guidance is offered as to how to identify the primary risk factors and ways to assess and manage these to improve both the working environment and the individual’s psychological health and safety.

The long-term aim is to make the management of wellbeing and psychological health and safety a far more integral part of an organisation’s culture, something that many organisations have so far struggled to fully achieve. Adopting this standard is likely to put this issue firmly on the table at board level which will help structure our recovery from the pandemic in terms of our mental health.

Lakeland Capabilities are working alongside DMA Safety Management to help Cumbrian businesses to adopt this new standard as it is released later in the year.   If you would like to learn more about this guidance then Contact Us.

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