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Tackling psychological health, safety, and wellbeing at work

04 December 2023

AS ORGANISATIONS become more effective at managing physical risks in the workplace, psychosocial risks can become more a significant component in overall OHS risk.

In the service sector, psychosocial risks are often more significant than those from physical hazards. This includes jobs that are particularly vulnerable to psychological harm – such as the emergency services.

Historically, many organisations have been hesitant to address psychological health and wellbeing, due in part to the stigma associated with mental ill-health. However, today’s workers, and especially the younger generation, are more aware of their psychological health and expect their employer to support their mental health and wellbeing. Organisations need to address these expectations to ensure they can attract and retain the talent they need to sustain their activities.

What are psychosocial risks?

Psychosocial risks are those which can arise from exposure to work-related hazards of a psychosocial nature. The risk is the combination of the likelihood of exposure to such a hazard and the severity of the injury or ill-health that it causes. Psychosocial hazards fall into three categories:

  • Aspects of work organisation,

  • Social factors at work,

  • And issues related to the work environment, equipment, or hazardous tasks.

Where to start?

There are strong parallels with the ways we manage physical OHS risks within an ISO 45001 management system; from the involvement of leaders, to systematically reviewing work activities and the available data to understand which psychosocial risks exist in the organisation as well as ensuring worker consultation and participation. 

The guidance standard ISO 45003 was published in 2021 and provides recommendations of how organisations of any type, size or sector can address psychological health, safety, and wellbeing at work. Leading assurance partner, LRQA has produced a whitepaper on the role of ISO 45003, which explores how organisations can connect psychosocial safety to ISO 45001, how to apply recommendations from ISO 45003 in your OHS management system, and the implications for OHS managers and leaders, to help you sustain a healthy workforce now and for the future.

Download your copy here.