On January 16, 2013, the Standards Council of Canada (CSA) published a new national standard dealing with psychological health and safety in the workplace. Although not a mandatory standard at this time, it is foreseeable that legislators, health and safety officers and inspectors, adjudicators and tribunals will be influenced by the standard when dealing with psychological and mental health issues in the workplace. In addition, such standards may be absorbed into the employer’s general duty to protect workers from harm in the workplace, which exists in all jurisdictions in Canada. Employers should also scrutinize their workplace operations, policies, procedures and processes under the auspices of the psychological health and safety system recommended in the standard.
As of January 2013, Canada is now the first country in the world to adopt a national standard for mental health in the workplace. Several health and safety and human rights legislation across Canada already address providing safe and healthy workplaces, the prevention of harassment that includes bullying, sexual harassment, and discrimination based on disability which includes mental illnesses. However, this new standard now gives employers and employees support to make their workplaces psychologically safe and healthy.
Despite the fact that a significant majority of Canadian organizations are legally obligated to conduct workplace violence risk assessments, it appears that uncertainty and inconsistency are commonplace when it comes to the actual conduct of the assessment. This month, we will take a closer look at workplace violence risk assessments: what they are, what they aren't, common pitfalls in conducting them and some best practice considerations from the available literature.