Safety culture concerns not only are the safety of life and protection of assets, but also strives to promote the equally important health and well-being of employees. Naturally, employers will work on control and procedures as well as competency of all levels of their work crew to maintain safe systems of work in place and in good order. However, we should also take a holistic look at the factors that may affect work crew performance and productivity to further assure work safety and help people thrive.
Psychosocial risk factors may affect workers' mental health and psychological response to their work and workplace conditions. These include working relationships with supervisors and colleagues as well as their loyalty to the organisation. Different types of psychological risk factors have been published by various professional organisations and researchers. Some risk factors include organisational culture, performance recognition and reward, civility and respect, workload management, involvement and influence, that can be considered across different organisations and industries.
Psychosocial risk factors are not the same as psychological safety or psychological health. Psychological safety is a team dynamic where people can learn from mistakes and respectively challenge ways of working if led by competent leadership. Psychological health, on the other hand, is an individual’s mental health. Separate from these two, psychosocial risk factors are interactions and events that may have a negative impact on a work crew’s psychological well-being in the workplace. Examples are poor job descriptions, conflict with supervisors or tight deadlines that may cause psychological stress to a person, with the underlying root cause being the responsibility of employers. Analysing psychosocial risk factors can identify the root causes of psychological harm. It may not be feasible to remove all risk factors at that same time. However, with a study of the organisation focusing on the top few major factors, more attention can be given towards prevention of harm.
We hope this article can raise awareness of psychosocial risks in the workplace and assist with early identification of risks. Formulating effective preventive and corrective measures can foster a concrete safety culture in organisations and provide better working conditions for employees.
This article is contributed by Ir Peter Lam with the coordination of the Safety Specialist Committee.