services from a focus on the needs of individual employees
to address organizational issues – workload, overtime and
6. Build the goal of better psychological OHS into
accountability. Performance management agreements for
managers should include psychological OHS goals. These
should indicate what is expected of managers in regards to
stress reduction and how they will be rewarded for success. This
should include general workplace practices, and also sensitive
situations such as handling layoffs in a fair and transparent
7. Review and enhance the policy environment. Supervisors
and HR managers should ask senior management to clarify
expectations with respect to psychological OHS, and how
success of related OHS plans can be monitored.
Many believe that existing laws carry great potential for legal
liability, and thus change through the courts or administrative tri-bunals.
Martin Shain, one of Canada’s leading experts on these
matters, describes the growing requirements for psychological
OHS as “the perfect legal storm.”
health & safety
He says the general duty provisions in OHS legislation re-quire
employers to ensure the health and safety of all employees.
Recent adjudication has indicated this should apply to psycholog-ical
OHS as well as physical safety. Quebec has already begun to
use these provisions to address psychosocial hazards. In addition,
recent Canada-wide regulations aimed at preventing occupation-al
violence have opened doors for dealing with broader aspects
of psychological OHS. A similar evolution appears to be taking
place with workers’ compensation. Compensation awards are in-creasingly
being upheld by the courts for mental injuries resulting
from chronic stress. The obligation to deal with stress appears to
be coming fast at employers.
The benefits of building psychologically healthier workplaces
will be seen not only in the reduction of OHS losses, but in a cor-responding
increase in productivity – since reduction of stress in
workplaces has been proven by two decades of research to aid the
profit performance of businesses and the efficiency of other types
of organizations. Improvements in related legislation and HR pro-grams
thus become a “win-win” for business. ■
Dr. Ted Harvey is president of SPR Associates. Neil Gavigan (former-ly
of Labour Canada) is senior consultant at SPR and Holly Bennett is
senior associate at SPR.
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HRPATODAY.CA ❚ OCTOBER 2014 ❚ 49