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MANAGEMENTS of organisations need to consider work-related stress and psychosocial risks as part of their safety and health strategy to reduce accidents and injuries at the workplace.

 Employers should be responsible for implementing plans to prevent or reduce psychosocial risks, enabling their employees to play their part and help create a healthy psychosocial work environment.

Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work will create a healthy work environment, in which workers feel valued. Workplace culture will be more positive, and consequently, productivity and business performance will improve.

Although many factors contribute to workers’ mental health and well-being, there is increasing evidence that the workplace environment makes a significant contribution.

In a good psychosocial environment, work can be beneficial for workers’ mental health, giving them a greater sense of social inclusion, identity and status, opportunities for development and increased confidence.

There are five categories of health hazards in the workplace: Physical, chemical, biological, ergonomics and psychosocial. Stress falls under psychosocial.

As workers spend one-third of their day at the office, workplace issues are one of the major contributors of depression.

However, these are often overlooked, especially by employers. Employees may not recognise the symptoms, especially if they are suffering from a mild form of depression, such as burnout and dysthymia.

The impact of mental health problems on the workers, their families and society as a whole, is immense. It is important to ensure the happiness and well-being of workers and their families through initiatives to promote good mental health at the workplace.

Employers must be aware that the neglect of mental health and psychosocial factors at the workplace is not only detrimental to the individual worker, but also directly affects productivity, efficiency and output of any organisation.

Employee performance, frequent illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover are all affected by the employees’ mental health status.

Issues related to mental health at the workplace can also have a direct impact on all stakeholders of the workplace, including employers, customers and the community in which the organisation is located.

No workplace is immune to mental disorders, and their impact in psychological, social and economic terms is high. Mental health should no longer be ignored.

On the contrary, it should be given adequate attention in relation to other business in any organisation. Mental health among employees must not be overlooked when discussing occupational safety and health issues at the workplace.

Workplace health promotion is essential, and it requires the combined efforts of employers, employees and government working together to improve the health and well-being of people at work.

The workplace directly influences the physical, mental, economic and social well-being of workers, and in turn, the health of their families, communities and society.

The concept of workplace health promotion (WHP) is becoming increasingly relevant as more private and public organisations recognise that future success in a global marketplace can only be achieved with a healthy, qualified and motivated workforce.

The implementation of WHP can ensure a flexible and dynamic balance between customer expectations and organisational targets, on the one hand, and employees’ skills and health needs, on the other, which can assist companies and work organisations to compete in the marketplace.

For nations, the development of WHP will be a prerequisite for sustainable social and economic development.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, Niosh chairman

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