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Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks
What are psychosocial risks?
There is an increasing understanding that no matter the size or shape of their organization, they are likely to be facing complex health and well-being issues now and well into the future. And critically, unless they are managed effectively, they will have serious implications for those who are already struggling to deal with the general uncertainty, economic disruption, and changing ways of working that the pandemic has brought.
The psychological health and well-being of workers are foundational for resilience and sustainability. For long-term success, an organization needs to address the root causes of psychological ill-health and recognize that people’s work and home life are not inseparable. Organizations need to recognise that psychological health and well-being is a multi-faceted issue, that needs a holistic and joined-up approach, bringing together multi-discipline teams including HR, H&S, and occupational health.
All this has contributed to the need for better psychological health and safety management within the workplace. This is what the new ISO 45003 intends to achieve through proper regulation and the promotion of best practices in the profession.
What is ISO 45003?
ISO 45003 is a new global standard that intends to give practical steps and methods of best practice for managing psychological health within the workplace. It will include rules around the management of psychological risk and incorporate it into a health, safety and wellbeing program.
ISO 45003, Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work: managing psychosocial risks — Guidelines (the first global standard giving practical guidance on managing psychological health at work) defines wellbeing at work as “fulfillment of the physical, mental and cognitive needs and expectations of a worker related to their work”. Fulfillment can be defined as “the achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted”.
Physical, mental, and cognitive needs and expectations mean that not only should we be kept healthy and safe at work but we should have the capacity to learn, develop and flourish; and we should not be kept from this through discrimination, bullying or harassment.
We should be seen as a human with lives outside of work and the need to have a suitable balance between the two. It is also not enough to dismiss the psychological effects of, for example, trauma, long term illness, or bereavement, as not work-related. They impact on people’s ability to work effectively. Equally, an organization’s approach to getting people back to work and how they are expected to work will impact their well-being outside of work – making the cycle of ill-health continue.
ISO 45003 includes information on how to recognize the psychosocial hazards that can affect workers and offers examples of effective – often simple – actions that can be taken to manage these. It recognizes that many organizations don’t have specialist, trained workers to manage psychological health and that it needs to be dealt with by people doing all sorts of other primary roles.
ISO 45003 is written to help organizations using an OH&S management system based on ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety, although it will also be useful for organizations that have not yet implemented an OH&S management system. In ISO 45001 there are already requirements around managing psychosocial risk and protecting mental health. ISO 45003 provides the tools to enable you to do this and take a leap forward in becoming a more sustainable and resilient organization.
Update on the current stage of ISO 45003
Updated: ISO 45003 has passed the public consultation period and the publication is now freely available and will go into a review and withdrawal period.