Federal Workplace Safety and Health Regulations, in force since February 2015, require employers to identify psychosocial risk factors, which are those that may cause non-organic anxiety and serious stress or adaptation problems, resulting from the nature of the work, the type of shift and exposure to severe traumatic events or acts of workplace violence.
Employers have the following specific obligations in the area of psychosocial risk factors:
- Identify and analyze activities that may generate risks due to the nature of the work performed or the type of labor shift;
- Identify employees that have been subject to severe traumatic events or acts of workplace violence and evaluate them clinically;
- Adopt pertinent preventive measures to mitigate risk factors;
- Carry out clinical exams or evaluations on personnel that has been exposed to psychosocial risk factors as required;
- Inform employees of possible alterations to their health due to exposure to psychosocial risk factors and
- Keep registries on preventive measures adopted and on results of clinical exams or evaluations.
Among the aspects that must be considered within psychosocial risk factors, are hazardous or unsafe work conditions, work that demands high responsibility or work that requires intense concentration and attention for prolonged periods of time.
Mexican Official Standard NOM-035-STPS-2018 (“NOM-035”) establishes guidelines for identifying and analyzing psychosocial risk factors in the workplace. It will become effective on October 23, 2019 and establishes different obligations for employers, taking into account the number of employees in a workplace. In all workplaces, employers are required to establish in writing as well as implement, maintain and divulge a policy to prevent psychosocial risk factors. The policy should contemplate (a) prevention of psychosocial risk factors, (b) prevention of labor violence and (c) promotion of a favorable organizational environment.
Workplaces having 50 employees or more, require employers to analyze psychosocial risk factors applying the guides established by NOM-035. Representative samplings may be carried out. The following elements must be taken into account to identify and analyze psychosocial risk factors:
- Workplace conditions;
- Lack of control over the work;
- Work shifts and rotation if these exceed those established by the Federal Labor Law;
- Interference in the work-family relationship;
- Negative leadership and negative work relations;
- Labor violence (harassment, bullying and other negative practices);
- Evaluation of a favorable work environment;
Once psychosocial risk factors have been analyzed and identified, employers must adopt the preventive and control actions established by NOM-035.
Possible penalties for lack of compliance
According to the Federal Labor Law, if an employer fails to comply with legal obligations in the area of safety, health and risk prevention, a workplace may be fined for every article or provision that is breached as well as for each employee affected in his or health or safety. Fines may be for very large amounts and this is why it is important for companies to develop plans to comply with their obligations in the area of safety and health in the workplace.