The NOM-035 in Mexico: Psychosocial risk factors at work

On October 23, 2018, a new regulation, the NOM-035-STPS-2018, was enacted, which is dealing with psychosocial risk factors. It was published in the Official Gazette and issued by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS). The regulation will enter into force in October of this year, encouraging companies established in Mexico to identify, prevent and avoid risk causes that harm the mental health of their employees.

Psychosocial risk factors are an indicator that workers are not feeling well at their workplace within the company. Due to this reason, the Mexican legislator will begin to require institutions, state and municipal governments and private initiatives to identify those risk factors through this regulation. For this, health institutions should be strengthened, risk agents should be taken care of and internal policies with a preventive approach should be created, which serve as a start for the treatment of this issue.

In 2013, the International Labor Organization noted that in a gradual manner and based on many efforts of governments and private sectors, traditional or common risks to occupational safety have been reduced. However, problems related to mental health have only been increasing through new types of diseases related to professional activities. No measures exist that contribute to the adequate control of these new diseases.

Additionally, a person in Mexico works an average of 2257 hours per year, which is above the international average of 1759 hours. This was the determining factor for the creation of the 035- regulation, whose purpose is that companies comply to certain standards. Right now, there is no real offer on the market with the ability to address the issue and provide advice and proper treatment.

Some important points of the regulation include:

  • It is aligned with the obligations of the Federal Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, so it does not create new or different obligations.
  • It has different obligations for the employers according to the number of employees.
  • The participation of specialists is only required in severe cases, like for instance exposure to severe traumatic events.
  • Workplaces of up to fifteen workers are exempt from this regulation.
  • It provides for a gradual entry into force of employer obligations.
  • It provides a method to identify and analyze psychosocial risk factors and evaluate the organizational environment.

Therefore, companies should review their Compliance Programs, as well as their internal policies, in order to adapt them to this new standard. Furthermore, prevention programs have to be created to reduce the risk factors.