Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell have created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and well-being of their employees first. Read about the 2018 winners of the award at

Register now for the 2019 Employee Recommended Workplace Awards at Get feedback from your staff and get recognized for your excellence in health and wellness.

You are invited to participate in our study to evaluate how prepared the average employee, HR leader, OHS professional, manager and senior leader believes their organization is to create a psychologically safe workplace. We ask you to take a few minutes to complete the short Rapid Psychological Health and Safety Gap Analysis. Over the next several weeks we will be collecting data and reporting our findings so that you can benchmark where you are against your peers.

Story continues below advertisement

One group alone can’t ensure a workplace is psychologically safe.

To achieve psychological safety in any organization requires the joint effort of the human resources (HR) team, the occupational health and safety (OHS) team and the senior leadership team. These teams working together support operations and all employees. Integration of the support offered by HR and OHS is required by operations for success in achieving a psychologically safe workplace. Let’s look at the reasons behind this.


Employees that serve the operations group understand the role of the HR team as being specialists who are responsible for recruiting, screening, interviewing and placing workers. The HR team also handles employee relations, wellness, wages and benefits, rewards and recognition, and some aspects of employee development and training.

The OHS team provides the technical support to the employee group as they work towards efficient and safe production of goods and services. The OHS team also supports operations in assessing workplace hazards and implementing safe job procedures and processes. Integrating the support provided by the HR and OHS groups is one of the keys to seamlessly achieving a psychologically safe workplace. To achieve a psychologically safe workplace as defined by the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard), it’s suggested that HR and OHS work collaboratively.

In fact, the Standard’s 13 psychological health and safety factors cover areas that fall under both HR and OHS. The organizational culture evolution is an outcome of the way employees are brought into the organization and the work processes used to allow for safe production.

The organizational culture and the people who contribute to it are integral in providing the social support necessary if employees are to feel psychologically safe. Civility and respect are hallmarks of human resource programming. Clear lines of communication, employee engagement, and defined opportunities for growth and development are part of employees’ participation in the HR management system.

Story continues below advertisement

Safety leadership is paramount, and employee involvement in completing workplace inspections, hazard assessments, incident investigations and related involvement in physical safety at work creates an obvious and automatic linkage to the OHS management system. If a psychologically safe workplace is to be provided to all employees, integration of the HR and OHS management systems is necessary, with the support of senior leaders.

Proper job design requires consideration of workload management. This includes considering both the physical and psychological demands put on employees. Ensuring employees can keep the “eyes on task and minds on task” is a key safety management system objective. Rewards and recognition of following the safe work system are part of OHS programming.

Safety leaders have argued for years that the safe system of work will be consistently followed only when employees have an opportunity to be part of the job and task design and have a feeling of involvement. Success in this regard is increased when employees get involved in workplace inspections, hazard assessment, incident investigation and other safety management system elements. Workload and work-life balance are objectives sought in programming of both HR and OHS groups.

When HR and OHS management systems are working together, they can provide a workplace that offers psychological protection.


Workplace psychological safety can only be achieved with full involvement of all employees. Senior management owns the outcomes, but leaders in the human resources and occupational health and safety departments need to see the linkages and make an effort to integrate and improve cross-departmental communication. If the Standard is to be implemented effectively, there needs to be recognition of the need for increased cooperation between HR and OHS.

Story continues below advertisement


A company’s OHR group needs to get more involved with the HR group. Workplace incidents need to be investigated to assess the extent to which causes may have included psychological as well as physical hazards. Both HR and OHS need to be involved. Job design has a big impact on physical safety and psychological safety. Fatigue, stress and mental readiness for work show up as major risk factors. The call to action is for the OHS and HR groups to de-silo and work together to create a physically and psychologically safe place of work.

Use of the Rapid Psychological Health and Safety Gap Analysis is can be helpful for HR and OHS leaders to obtain a quick baseline for your organization’s psychological safety practices. The results from this rapid analysis allow you to determine strengths and gaps with respect to your organization’s integration of HR and OHS management systems.

Glyn Jones is a Professional Engineer, a consulting occupational health and safety professional, and a partner at EHS Partnerships Ltd. in Calgary.

Bill Howatt is the chief research and development officer of work force productivity with Morneau Shepell in Toronto.

You can find all the stories in this series at

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the authors of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies