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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Leading the way towards psychologically healthy and safe workplaces

Let’s imagine you’re in a leadership position on a construction site. You wouldn’t allow your workers to go to work without their proper physical safety equipment – such as hard hats, work boots, fall-arrest gear, and other personal protection equipment (PPE) —would you? But what about their psychological health and safety? What tools and supports do you have in place for that? 

This year’s national Safety and Health Week (May 1 to 7) coincides with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week (May 2 to 8), making this the ideal time to ask leaders that question.

The concept of psychological health and safety in the workplace may be relatively new to some employers, but the research into it reveals it is just as important as physical health and safety. In a recent survey, 33 per cent of Nova Scotia participants reported mental health as the greatest perceived risk in their workplace, underlining the importance of creating healthy workplaces, both physically and psychologically.

For example, workplaces with a lack of focus on psychological health and safety have increased rates of workplace injuries, illnesses, sick time, and disability claims. They also have difficulties in post-injury return to work. On top of that, they’ve been shown to have lower productivity and quality of work, along with increased human error.

As a leader, what can you do?

First, be aware of the factors that contribute to psychologically healthy and safe workplaces. The Mental Health Commission of Canada as developed this series of short videos that explore them all. Afterwards, fill out our Workplace Assessment, which challenges you to take a good hard look at your workplace to see what you could be doing better—and how doing so will result in improved outcomes for your workers and your bottom line.

Lead the way by being a role model for your employees. Leadership is the foundation for the success of any organization. By demonstrating a commitment to psychological health and safety, you will influence others around you. Some ways you can do this are by:

  • keeping a good work/life balance
  • talking openly about psychological health and safety
  • connecting with your employees about how they feel about their work and welcoming their feedback
  • ensuring your workplace is free from the harmful effects of bullying, discrimination, harassment, violence, or stigma
  • maintaining clear, frequent, honest communications with your employees
  • providing training and support as needed

Join us on May 5 for a free webinar - Psychologically Healthy and Safe Workplaces: An Introduction for Employers – delivered by WCB Nova Scotia Workplace Consultant Marc DesRoches. Marc will walk you through:

  • What are psychologically healthy and safe workplaces? 
  • The human and business impact of poor psychological health and safety at work
  • The 13 workplace psychosocial factors linked to supporting employee psychological health and safety
  • How to get started with adopting these practices

Perhaps most importantly, create an environment that allows employees with psychological injuries to either stay at work or return to work when ready by fostering a safe, supportive, respectful workplace. 

WCB Nova Scotia is proud of the strong safety culture we have helped to build in our province. However, we know more needs to be done when it comes to supporting workplaces in preventing psychological injury. Building awareness is the first step in achieving change. We will continue to focus on awareness, and sharing resources that will help Nova Scotia employers improve the psychological health and safety of their workplaces.

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