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Psychosociale risico's en stress op het werk

Psychosocial risks and stress. Several workers wearing telephone headsets

Psychosociale risico's en werkgerelateerde stress behoren tot de grootste bedreigingen voor de veiligheid en de gezondheid op het werk. Zij hebben een belangrijke impact op de gezondheid van personen, organisaties en nationale economieën.

About half of European workers is of the opinion that stress generally occurs due to workplace stress and almost half of all lost working days. As with many other issues in the field of mental health, there is often a lack of understanding about or negative attitudes towards stress. When stress, however, as an organizational problem is seen rather than a personal failure, psychosocial risks and stress can be as manageable as any other health and safety risks at work.

What are psychosocial risks and stress?

Psychosocial risks caused by poor workplace design and organization and management of the work, as well as poor social work context, and they can result in negative psychological, physical and social consequences, such as work-related stress, burnout and depression. Some examples of working conditions that lead to psychosocial risks are:

  • excessive workload;
  • conflicting demands and lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities;
  • little involvement in decisions regarding employees and little impact on the way the work is done;
  • mismanaged organizational changes, job insecurity;
  • ineffective communication, lack of support from superiors or colleagues;
  • psychological and sexual harassment, violence by third parties.

When considering job requirements are important psychosocial risks, such as an excessive workload, not to be confused with conditions that are stimulating and even sometimes be a challenge, but which also has been a supportive work environment where employees are well trained and they are motivated perform to their best ability. A good psychosocial environment encourages good performance, personal development and also the mental and physical wellbeing of employees.

Workers suffer stress when their job is demanding and requires more of them than they can handle. Workers who suffer stress for a long time, besides spiritual can also develop serious physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease or problems with the musculoskeletal system.

The negative effects on the organization include poor overall business performance, higher absenteeism, presenteeism (employees coming to work while they are sick and are unable to function effectively) and higher accident and injury rates. The failure often takes longer than for other causes absenteeism and work-related stress can lead to higher rates of early retirement. The costs for businesses and society are estimated very high and amount to billions of euros at national level.

How big is the problem?

From a European poll of EU-OSHA shows that about half of the employees work-related stress is a common problem at work. The most common causes of arbeidsgebonden stress are werkreorganisatie or baanonzekerheid, long hours or excessive workload, and harassment and violence at work. EU-OSHA provides information on recent data and research related to the spread of arbeidsgebonden stress and psychosociale risks and its impact on health and safety .

Shall be deemed to bear the most fruit a preventive, holistic and systematic approach to the management of psychosocial risks. EU-OSHA's Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (Esener) examines how psychosocial risks are perceived and addressed in European companies (main driving reasons, obstacles and needs for support). The survey shows that psychosocial risks are seen as a bigger and more difficult problem to solve than 'traditional' health and safety risks at work. There is a need for awareness and simple, practical tools to facilitate tackling work-related stress, violence and harassment.

What can be done to prevent and manage psychosocial risks?

With the right approach can prevent psychosocial risks and work-related stress and be successfully controlled, regardless of the size of company or type of company. They can be dealt with in the same logical and systematic way as other health and safety risks at work.

Stress management is not only a moral imperative and a good investment for employers, but also a legal obligation in the Framework Directive 89/391 / EEC , which is supported by the framework agreement of the social partners on work-related stress and harassment and violence at work.

Furthermore, the European Pact for Mental Health and Well admits to changing demands in the work and the increasing workload and encourages employers to additional voluntary measures to promote mental wellbeing.

While employers have a legal responsibility to ensure that risks at work are properly assessed and controlled, it is essential that the employees involved. Employees and their representatives have the best understanding of the problems that may occur in their workplace. Their involvement will ensure that the measures introduced are appropriate and effective.

EU-OSHA provides a wealth of information and practical assistance in identifying, preventing and managing psychosocial risks and work-related stress .