Standards for Psychological Health and Safety

by Coral Doherty

Canada recently (2018) reaffirmed their National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace - focused on prevention, promotion, and guidance to staged implementation (see attachment). Similarly, in June 2021, a new International Standard (ISO 45003) was published for Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks (see attached). The American National Standards Institute (ANSI)is adopting the same standard.

From the document itself, "This document outlines examples of psychosocial hazards arising from work organization, social factors and work environment, equipment and hazardous tasks, as well as a range of control measures that can be used to eliminate hazards or minimize associated risks.

Organizations are responsible for identifying hazards and minimizing the risks associated with them. The participation of workers, in all stages of the process, is critical to the success of managing psychosocial risks.

This document also includes information on what is important for organizations to consider in relation to raising awareness of psychosocial risks, developing competence in the management of psychosocial risks, supporting the recovery and return to work of affected workers, and planning for and responding to emergency situations.

The success of psychosocial risk management depends on commitment from all levels and functions of the organization, especially from top management."

How might we take the progress being made via the development of these standards and make them part of the standard of practice in veterinary medicine?

One idea might be to ask our ecosystem's primary practice standards organization - the American Animal Hospital Association - to work with a body of experts and create a set of standards and accreditation for small to large practices wanting to adopt best practices for psychological health and safety. These standards and the subsequent accreditation would be constructed from the Canadian/ISO/ANSI standards in place today, adapted for our industry, if necessary.