Psychological Health and Safety Initiative

Traditionally, physical injuries have been the measure of workplace safety. However, workplaces can also present hazards to a worker’s psychological health and safety, and can lead to significant mental and physical injuries or death. About 30 percent of short and long-term workplace disability claims in Canada are attributed to psychological issues (source: Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2013), and workplace-related mental health claims in Canada cost approximately $20 billion per year.

The Psychological Health and Safety Initiative is new for 2021–2023 and was developed to support the management of psychological risks in the workplace that contribute to injuries or illnesses. The initiative focuses prevention activities on identified areas of high psychological risk in order to apply consultation, education, and enforcement efforts where they will be most effective. It expands beyond the bullying and harassment initiative that was introduced in 2013, and addresses the broader issues impacting psychological safety and mental well-being in the workplace.

Our goals

The goals of the 2021–2023 Psychological Health and Safety Initiative are:

  • Increase awareness of psychological health and safety in B.C. workplaces
  • Improve psychological health and safety in B.C. workplaces

Our goal is to raise employers’ awareness that their responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their workers includes worker psychological health and safety. Through education and consultation, our awareness activities will:

  • Assist employers to eliminate or mitigate hazards related to psychological health and safety in the workplace
  • Provide best practices and information on how to support workplace psychological wellness
  • Provide information and supports to help prevent workplace mental health issues

Our focus

This initiative focuses on ensuring that workplaces have basic health and safety programs in place that support psychological health and safety in the workplace. These programs include:

  • Working alone
  • Violence prevention
  • Bullying and harassment prevention
  • New worker training
  • Monthly meetings (including worker representatives and joint occupational health and safety committees, where applicable)
  • First aid procedures

In addition to reviewing these programs, officers will focus on helping employers and workers to understand how these programs can impact psychological health and safety. Officers will also work with employers to understand the psychological health and safety risks in their workplace, and how to effectively involve workers in identifying risks to psychological health and safety.

This will be supported by three primary strategies:

  1. Education, consultation, and enforcement: We will deploy a team of prevention officers focused on supporting employers in building and sustaining psychologically healthy workplaces, and developing resources for workers and employers, including best practices, tool kits, and guides for workplace psychological health.
  2. Research and best practices: We will look at the impact of psychological health and safety on workplaces and strategies and/or tactics to enhance workplace psychological health and safety. We have several research initiatives underway looking at evidence-based interventions (e.g., tools, tactics, programs) for psychological injury prevention and post-psychological injury services.
  3. Provide support and materials to workers and employers: This includes developing workshops to train employers how to build psychologically safe workplaces, establishing and supporting the First Responders’ Health Committee, and developing and executing conferences including a First Responder and Community Conference in 2023 to provide education and training to promote positive mental health in workplaces.

What you can do

There are many steps that employers can take to assist in protecting psychological health and safety in workplaces. Programs including working alone and violence and harassment prevention, effective worker training, and effective means to report health and safety concerns are part of the basis for a psychologically safe workplace. Our health and safety pages provide resources and information on how to understand and address some of the health and safety issues we’ll be focusing on with our inspections.