Carrying out a Stress Risk Assessment

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23 Jul 2018

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The HSE states that over 11 million days are lost a year because of stress, with stress making up around 37% of all work-related ill-health cases.

Some of the main factors contributing to workload pressure include:
  • Lack of managerial support
  • Tight deadlines
  • Too many responsibilities
  • Role uncertainty
  • Workplace violence
Almost all of the above factors of stress in the workplace can be identified, and consequently prevented, by carrying out a risk assessment.

Do we have to carry out a stress risk assessment?

Yes, employers are required to manage stress at work in the same way as other health and safety risks, and the first step is a risk assessment. This will identify the nature and extent of the risk and employers are required to put in place preventative strategies to address those risks in a reasonable, practicable way. It could be that there is little or no risk of workplace stress, but you need to check regularly. There are general indicators such as levels of sickness absence, patterns of absence, long-term absences, relationships amongst employees, and feedback from them.

What is the best way to carry out a risk assessment?

There is no single method of risk assessment. You may decide to issue employees, or representatives from each category of employee, with a questionnaire. The questions will relate to the person’s role, their workload, resources, and how their work is arranged in terms of targets and deadlines. The questionnaire can also seek views on the working environment and facilities, relationships, support arrangements, and on the perception of the employer’s general attitude to health and safety matters. Another method is to set up a focus group to discuss these issues confidentially. As with all risk assessments, the significant findings need to be recorded (in writing if there are more than 5 employees) and monitored and reviewed as necessary. See more information on HSE’s Stress site: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/

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