Avoiding the Hurt – Staying safe and sane on the shop floor

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Manufacturing can be hazardous. Stamping presses slam, cutting tools slice, machine tools and forklifts show no respect for human flesh. Yet the risk of smashed fingers or a few stitches at the emergency room is nothing compared to the dangers of stress, depression and the constant worry of life as a worker bee. Simply put, a healthy workplace needs more than steel-toed boots and safety signs.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian economy loses over $50 billion annually due to mental illness. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, are just some of the health conditions that keep 500,000 Canadians home from work each week, and cause more than 30 per cent of all disability claims.

Standards and Mandates
The Canadian government agrees. Funded by Health Canada, the MHCC has worked with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) to deliver the standard CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ 9700-803/2013, or National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the National Standard).

As its name implies, the standard defines guidelines for employers wishing to create a workplace that promotes psychological wellness. Nitika Rewari, program manager, workplace, at the MHCC, explains the Commission’s recommendation “We were brought into existence to develop the first ever mental health strategy for Canada. Among other things, the strategy calls for creating mentally healthy workplaces and broad-based adoption of Standards to address the issue. The National Standard focuses on psychological health and safety in the workplace with a goal to prevent harm and promote psychosocial wellbeing in the workplace.”

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