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It was recently reported by Safe Work Australia that Australian businesses are losing $6 billion per annum due to the productivity losses associated with poor psychological health and safety practice in the workplace.

With a significant rise of workplace mental health issues, combined with physical health issues, it’s not surprising that experts are reconsidering workplace design to help ease this problem.

Our surroundings are so important to our well-being that ISO have introduced a number of new standards that deal specifically with workplace design and set up.

Studies have proven time and time again that a safer and healthier work space is conducive to increased productivity, job satisfaction, longer tenure, less absenteeism, and a better culture filled with happier workers. So it makes sense to get the fundamentals of workplace design right.

Ergonomic Principles

ISO 6385 deals specifically with Ergonomic principles in the design of work systems, outlining how workplaces can be redesigned or modified for better ergonomics, leading to a safer, more comfortable work space.  This standard covers occupations such as “machine operators, assembly line workers, car/lorry drivers, airport personnel, healthcare professionals, teaching staff as well as office workers and mobile workers on laptops.” It promotes the idea that the design process of any work situation should take into consideration the social and technical requirements of workers, as well as the human body’s requirements.

Dealing with Mental Workload

ISO 10075 tackles Ergonomic principles related to mental workload, providing a practical guideline to prevent an overload of mental stress. Mental stress can be the result of a number of factors, including the demands of a particular task, the conditions of a work space, social factors and company culture-related factors. Mental stress, when compared to physical injury or illness, can be a difficult problem to solve as it is easily hidden or simply overlooked.

ISO 10075 “establishes principles and requirements for the measurement and assessment of mental workload and specifies the requirements for measurement instruments.”

A “human-centred” Approach

ISO 27500 promotes organisations becoming human-centred through values and beliefs and provides advice on policies that executive leadership and company board members can implement in order to achieve this. The standard outlines the many benefits to the human-centred approach and also explores the risks businesses face when they are not human-centred.  

We’ve seen the increasing prevalence of promoting ‘human-ness’ at work in prominent leaders such as Richard Branson.  Branson’s “100% Human” program stands for the belief that businesses need to “stop looking at people as resources and start seeing them as human beings.”

Essentially, as ISO 27500 advocates, organisations stand to greatly enhance the wellbeing of their workforce, which in turn has a positive effect on internal, external and customer-focussed relationships as well as wider societal and environmental factors.

These new ISO standards introduce some helpful and practical ways to reduce physical and mental stress in the workplace, no matter what industry or job and is well worth looking into for a sustainable, long term health and safety strategy.

The standards are available through the ISO Store.

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