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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

Mental health influence

Mental health influence
Article Type:
Publication Date:
New Zealand

Organisations which have implemented Canada’s unique National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace are showing promising results, according to early findings from a three-year research project due to be reported early next year.

Louise Bradley, CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, told a seminar at AUT in Auckland that staff at one of Toronto’s largest hospitals now take on average four fewer absence days per year, and the hospital’s overall healthcare costs have gone down seven percent. A large clothing retailer enjoys reduced absenteeism, lower staff turnover, increased employee satisfaction, and a substantial drop in pilferage.

She said prime minister Justin Trudeau has recently directed the Standard to be implemented in all federal government workplaces – just another example of the spread of Canada’s most-downloaded free standard.

What is really inspiring, however, is the development of communities of practice, both formal and informal, which have sprung up since the Standard was launched in 2012. “The Standard has taken on a life of its own. It’s one of the most transformative pieces of work the MHC has done.”

The lesson, she said, is that collaboration is at the heart of any successful project, a message she hopes is heard as use of the Standard spreads beyond the borders of Canada. “All of the work that the Mental Health Commission does is in partnership with others. We have been amazed at the uptake from the private sector.”

The MHC has particularly targeted the Canadian healthcare sector – “hospitals are the most toxic workplaces I have worked in” – and has assisted in the formation of a group of 23 healthcare organisations, some of which are already working with the Standard and can mentor others. A guideline specifically for the healthcare sector is under development.

The Standard requires a staff survey as its first step, and Bradley said she was shocked to find there was workplace bullying going on within the MHC itself, prompting her to reconsider the organisation’s structure. “If this is going on in a relatively small organisation and we didn’t know about it ...”

Resistance to the Standard comes in two forms: fear that it will cost too much to implement, or just be too hard to do. Bradley is reassuring on both counts. Yes, it does cost a bit to introduce “but you will get your money back tenfold”. And it’s an ongoing journey where an organisation isn’t expected to do everything at once, and is likely to discover it is already doing some things well. “It reassures people they are not starting from scratch.”

When the Standard began to be implemented many organisations ran it through their HR team, but she said most have now moved it within their overall health and safety programme, which is what the MHC recommends.



People Mentioned:
Louise Bradley
Organisations Mentioned:
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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