STANDARDS IN WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING :

OVERVIEW AND AVENUES FOR EMPLOYERS TO CONSIDER

The launch in March 2018 of the standard ISO 45001 – the 1stvoluntary international standard for occupational health and safety – offers an excellent pretext for Global-Watch to reflect on current standards related to workplace health and well-being and to encourage employers to think about using these standards.
Given the rigorous processes associated with developing standards and certification, this document deals exclusively with standards related to workplace health and well-being from standards organizations.

STANDARDS ORGANIZATIONS AND STANDARDS SPECIFIC TO WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING – IN BRIEF

What is a standard and how are they developed?

A standard is a reference document that is implemented voluntarily. It is approved by a recognized standards organization, such as the ISO, if the standard has international consensus or, for example, the Association française de normalisation (AFNOR) or the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (Québec/Canada), if consensus on the standard is at the national level. It defines requirements and characteristics that apply to activities, products, processes or services.

It is the fruit of reflection by a standards committee that represents the stakeholders of a market or an activity sector. Its development process is led by the recognized standards organization based on the ISO’s standards for the international development of standards.

In other words, a standard is a frame of reference, implemented voluntarily, developed from the reflection of stakeholders, based on a rigorous process and by a recognized organization. Based on consensus, evidence and best practices, a standard determines knowledge on a given subject and disseminates it. It offers organizations a benchmark, which is necessary to expedite and facilitate the implementation of new practices.

The standard is by definition to be implemented voluntarily, unless it becomes mandatory because of a legal or contractual requirement. Only 1% of standards are mandatory. In the area of workplace health and well-being, there are no mandatory standards.

The development process for a standard

Through its members, the ISO brings together experts representing different interests and points of view who pool their knowledge to develop voluntary international standards. They support innovation and bring solutions to global issues in almost all activity sectors. The same kind of consensual process is used by national standards organizations to set standards in their respective country.

STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATION: TWO SEPARATE AND VOLUNTARY STEPS

Certification is written assurance given by an independent and recognized third party that a standard’s requirements are respected. If a standard and certification are closely connected, all standards developed by standards organizations are not designed for certification purposes. One must return to the standard to know whether it is suited to certification. When a certification is possible, it is never a requirement of the standard. It is a voluntary process that stems from the decision of each organization that wants to show officially that it meets a standard’s criteria. Note, however, that as with standards, in some sectors, certification can be mandatory due to a legal or contractual requirement.

ISO 45001: 1STINTERNATIONAL STANDARD FOR OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY (OHS)

Standard ISO 45001Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use –offers an international framework for creating safe and healthy workplaces (especially through enhancing workplace safety and reducing risks) and improving employee health and well-being. Such a management system for workplace health and safety allows organizations to carry out their responsibilities when it comes to workplace health and safetyand improve in a proactive and ongoing way their performance in this area.

ISO 45001 was designed to be integrated within an organization’s existing management processes. It uses the same structure-framework as other ISO management system standards, such as ISO 9001 (Quality management) and ISO 14001 (Environmental management). The main reference for its development is standard OHSAS 18001, the guidelines (ILO-OSH 2001) from the International Labour Organization (ILO). It also complies with ILO’s international work standards and conventions.

What is OHSAS 18001?

It was agreed that a 3-year transition period would allow organizations to gradually migrate to standard ISO 45001.

In brief

Standard 45001, launched in March 2018, is an international standard. The standard and interesting information documents are available from https://www.iso.org/news/ref2272.html and https://www.iso.org/isofocus_127.html

3 INSPIRING STANDARDS FOR ORGANIZATIONS CONCERNED ABOUT THE OVERALL HEALTH – PHYSICAL, PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL – OF THEIR EMPLOYEES

While the standard ISO 45001 highlights at the outset companies’ responsibility for promoting and maintaining the physical and mental health of their employees, it focuses more on the health and safety of workers. The following 3 standards can therefore be very useful in guiding concrete actions to take when it comes to prevention and well-being in the workplace. There are 3 standards that deal specifically with prevention and the promotion of workplace health and well-being, in general terms or by concentrating on one aspect of workplace health. They are different from other workplace health standards that discuss workers’ health more from the perspective of safety and risk of injury. They are therefore valuable references for all organizations, no matter what country they are located in, that wish to take concrete action related to the health and well-being of their employees.

 

Standard

Healthy Enterprise

Work–family balance

Psychological health and safety in the workplace

Standard #

BNQ 9700-800 BNQ 9700-820 CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ 9700-803

Entry into force/ Development

2008

Currently under review and Canadian recognition by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

2010 2013

Renewed in 2018

Initiator

Groupe entreprises en santé Ministry of the Family, Québec Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC)

Origin

  Québec  Québec  Canada

Free access

     

Certification

   

Context

This standard is an action of the Plan d’action gouvernemental de promotion des saines habitudes de vie et de prévention des problèmes reliés au poids 2006-2012, which aimed, among other things, to improve people’s lifestyle habits and create environments that support their health and well-being, including in workplaces. This standard flows from the Politique gouvernementale pour l’égalité entre les femmes et les hommes (2006), one of whose major orientations was work–family balance (WFB), by encouraging workplaces especially to establish WFB measures and practices in sectors that are mainly male as well as those that are mainly female. Followed the Mental Health Commission of Canada conference Towards the Light, held in December 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, a gathering of a group of leaders and experts from government, labour, business, research, standardization and workplace health and safety by Great-West’s Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace,and the development of a consensus statement in favour of a Canadian standard on psychological health.

Objectives (Drawn from article 1 of each standard)

Followed the Mental Health Commission of Canada conference Towards the Light,held in December 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, a gathering of a group of leaders and experts from government, labour, business, research, standardization and workplace health and safety by Great-West’s Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace,and the development of a consensus statement in favour of a Canadian standard on psychological health. Specify requirements for good work–family balance (WFB) practices in line with characteristics and realities of organizations and their employees.

Aim to have WFB as an integral part of human resource management in organizations.

Specify requirements for establishing a documented and systematicmethod for creating and maintaining a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. 

Summary

4 areas of activity: Employee lifestyle. Work–life balance. Workplace. Management practices.

5 steps: Commitment by management. Health and well-being committees. Data collection. Implementation plan. Evaluation of activities.

6 categories of measures: Commitment by management. Respect for work-related laws and regulations. Creating a WFB committee. Managing WFB. Flexibility in work organization. Work scheduling. Vacation. Flexibility in the workplace. Goods or services provided in the workplace. Framework for the creation and continuous improvement of a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. 13 organizational factors,including commitment, leadership and participation. Planning. Implementation. Evaluation. Management review and continuous improvement. Promotion and protection of employee well-being. Work satisfaction. Self-esteem. Self-actualization at work.

WHERE TO START WITH STANDARDS?

A few clarifications on standards

It is important to specify that standards related to workplace health and well-being

  • Are designed to adapt to characteristics and realities of organizations and their employees. They can therefore be used by all organizations, no matter their size, their activity sector and the nature of their activities.
  • Adopt an approach that allows users to ensure the effectiveness and continuous improvement of processes in place in order to respond to an organization’s constantly changing context.
  • Are based on a similar process. (See box.)

From inspiration to implementation of a standard

An organization that is concerned about workplace health and well-being of its employees can

  • Download standards – many are available free of charge in English and French (see https://www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com/mhcc/pdf/WorkingTowardAPsychologicallySafeWorkplace_20101_fr.pdf) – and become familiar with them. The summary of the standards presented on the previous page can guide you to the standard that may be the most relevant for your organization.
  • Start a reflection on and analysis of the benefits you are seeking in workplace health and well-being, based on needs, issues and demands specific to your organization.
  • Analyze the gaps between practices that are already in place in your organization and those recommended by the standard(s), in order to estimate the efforts required to implement a standard. You can then decide to start by simply drawing on certain practices proposed in one or more standards, to eventually taking a comprehensive approach to implementing a standard.

AN IMAGE THAT SUMMARIZES THE APPROACH PROPOSED IN THE STANDARD ON WORKPLACE HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

The new standard ISO 45001 contains a graphic showing the approach of the proposed management system for OHS: A system by which an organization plans, carries out, evaluates and improves OHS activities based on the organization’s context and desired results, with the commitment of management and employee participation.

A framework from which each of these standards was drawn.

Source: ISO 45001 – Occupational health and safety management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, 2018, Figure 1

Maintaining certification for a three-year cycle also allows the organization to:

  • Ensure continuous improvement of implementation practices.
  • Reassure management about compliance and effectiveness of good practices that are implemented.
  • Give employees confidence about management’s desire to ensure the sustainability of practices that are in place.

WHAT IS CERTIFICATION?

Once a standard has been implemented in an organization, certification allows it to confirm its solid understanding and application of practices described in the standard. The process consists of doing an audit of the organization’s documentation, interviews with employees and various bodies in the organization, and an observation of the work environment by the certification organization. Certification is a good way to

  • Demonstrate the genuine commitment of the organization and its management toward workplace health and well-being.
  • Consolidate and strengthen human and social values within the organizational culture.
  • Mobilize employees.
  • Be recognized by job seekers and its own community.
  • Promote commitment to workplace health and well-being by using the certification logo in information and promotional tools.

 

Maintaining certification for a three-year cycle also allows the organization to

  • Ensure continuous improvement of implementation practices.
  • Reassure management about compliance and effectiveness of good practices that are implemented.
  • Give employees confidence about management’s desire to ensure the sustainability of practices that are in place.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT STANDARDS?

This document gives only a taste of the subject of standards for workplace health and well-being. Would you like to know more about lessons learned on the 3 standards on workplace health and well-being, the key tools and resources available, certified companies, and more? Visit www.global-watch.com and consult our file on standards.

Global-Watch Supplement

The publication in March 2018 of the standard ISO 45001 – the 1st voluntary international standard for occupational health and safety – was the ideal pretext for Global-Watch to reflect on the different standards related to workplace health and well-being from standards organizations: the international standard ISO 45001 and the Healthy enterprise, Work–family balance and Psychological health and safety in the workplace standards from Canada. It is within this context that Global-Watch produced for its affiliates the following tools:

  • The above summary document of the main standards for workplace health and well-being from standards organizations.

Developed in cooperation with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) and the Association française de normalisation (AFNOR), this document summarizes the 4 standards, explains the process for developing standards, distinguishes between standardization and certification, and suggests ways to use the standards. (This document is available to the general public.)

Drawing on standards for a solid intervention framework in workplace health and well-being

For Global-Watch, all organizations that are concerned about the health and well-being of their employees and are planning to put in place policies, processes or activities in this area would do well to know more about and draw on standards in workplace health and well-being, even if they are not planning to formally implement a standard or obtain a certification. A standard can also be used to compare an organization’s practices with those recommended in the standard and to adjust its strategies as a result.

Because the rigorous process for developing standards depends on the consensus of experts representing different interests and points of view, evidence and best practices, drawing on standards allows organizations to put in place winning conditions for workplace health and well-being. The standards fit perfectly within the intervention framework proposed by Global-Watch. Several standards on workplace health and well-being are offered free of charge in English and French on the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) website.

When it comes to standards, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Various tools and training materials are already available.

To assist its affiliates, Global-Watch has identified the key tools available for organizations wishing to introduce a standard, or even simply draw on them.

1.

Psychological health and safety in the workplace standard

The Psychological health and safety in the workplace standard proposes a framework for the creation and continuous improvement of a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. The Mental Health Commission of Canada, which instigated the standard, makes available to employers a number of tools in English and French, including several that are free of charge :

When it comes to mental health at work, we must also mention the information, training and tools made available to employers by Workplace Strategies for Mental Health, an initiative of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.

2.

Healthy enterprise standard

In Québec, the Groupe entreprises en santé offers employers (in French):

  • Various tools and trainings (for a fee) to successfully apply the standard, and certification.
  • Employer testimonials

BNQ also makes available to employers, in English and French

  • The explanatory document to facilitate deployment of the standard, including the standard
  • The list of certified companies
  • Various documents and related information

In France, AFNOR offers the same content, but adapted to the French context (in French):

  • Become a QVT project leader. Certified training
  • Become a certified evaluation consultant
  • A one-day seminar: Workplace well-being: a successful deployment strategy

 

3.

Work–family balance standard

BNQ makes available to employers various information documents on the standard and certification as well as the list of certified companies (in French).

 

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