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First International Guide on Psychosocial Hazards at Work Published

First International Guide on Psychosocial Hazards at Work Published
15 June 2021
 

A new standard, named "ISO 45003: Occupational health and safety management — Psychological health and safety at work — Guidelines for managing psychosocial risks" is to provide recommendations ton how to prevent work-related psychological ill health.

The BSI, in its role as the UK National Standards Body, has published the standard to help organisations better manage employee wellbeing at work.

 

What are Psychosocial Hazards?

 

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work defines psychosocial risks as arising from poor work design, organisation and management, as well as a poor social context of work.

They may result in negative psychological, physical and social outcomes such as work-related stress, burnout or depression. Some examples of working conditions leading to psychosocial risks are:

  • Excessive workloads
  • Conflicting demands and lack of role clarity
  • Lack of involvement in making decisions that affect the worker and lack of influence over the way the job is done
  • Poorly managed organisational change, job insecurity
  • Ineffective communication, lack of support from management or colleagues
  • Psychological and sexual harassment, third party violence

Psychosocial hazards are increasingly recognized as major challenges to health, safety and wellbeing at work. For the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted ways of working and demanded that people adapt to new challenges like increased isolation and changing priorities.

For organisations, the impact of psychosocial risks includes increased costs due to absence from work, reduced ability to work effectively and increased staff turnover, as well as damage to the organization’s reputation. Effective management can eliminate or mitigate these risks and lead to benefits such as improved engagement, enhanced productivity and organizational resilience and sustainability.

 

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First International Standard on Managing Psychosocial Health and Safety at Work

 

A committee that is made-up of experts from 40 countries developed this international standard to be practical and easy to understand for every organisation, including those without a dedicated occupational health and safety or human resources function.

It is applicable to organisations of all sizes and in all sectors, for the development, implementation, maintenance and continual improvement of healthy and safe workplaces.

Scott Steedman, Director-General, Standards at BSI said: “We are proud to have led the development of ISO 45003, the first international standard on managing psychosocial health and safety at work. The global pandemic has put new pressures on people whose employers expect them to work from home or in challenging new working conditions.

"This important business standard is a consensus of good practice for organisations everywhere, providing off-the-shelf advice for companies so that they can enhance the wellbeing of their employees whilst striving to meet business needs, a win-win outcome.”

Picture: a photohgraph of two people speaking at a meeting table, one using a laptop 

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 15 June 2021

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