No Procedures for Managing Stress in European Workers
Most European companies reportedly still don’t have procedures for managing workplace stress and other psychosocial risks, despite the increasing threat that they pose to Europe’s workers.
This situation is explored in two new reports from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), which look at the reasons why, with 79% of managers in the EU being concerned about stress at work, and 40% concerned with workplace harassment and violence, 74% of European businesses still do not have procedures in place to deal with these issues.
80% of Workers Expect Stress to Increase
The reports come at a time when increasing numbers of European workers are reporting problems with stress, and with a recent opinion poll showing that 80% of EU workers expect stress levels to increase in the next five years. The health problems associated with stress and other psychosocial risks are well known, and yet it seems that many European businesses are finding it difficult to prevent them.
Findings of the European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks (ESENER) show that only 3% of enterprises are tackling psychosocial risks in a fully holistic and systematic way, and 12% did not implement any of the key measures for managing psychosocial risks covered by the survey.
50 – 60% of All Lost Work Days From Psychosocial Risks
The reports looked at the factors that make businesses more likely to succeed in addressing these issues, including concerns being raised directly by employees, and an awareness of the business case for taking this issue seriously: currently some 50-60% of all lost working days are thought to be related to psychosocial risks, while mental health disorders are estimated to cost 240 billion Euros a year in the EU. Businesses that are aware of the close connection between psychosocial risks and high rates of absenteeism are much more likely to make serious efforts to manage those risks.
At the same time, the reports identify the barriers that many businesses encounter in trying to deal with psychosocial risks, including a lack of technical support and guidance, and a lack of resources.
Study Provides Snapshot of Managing Health and Safety
The two EU-OSHA reports, ‘Management of psychosocial risks at work’ and ‘Drivers and barriers for psychosocial risk management,’ follow up on EU-OSHA’s ESENER survey. This large-scale study provides a snapshot of the way that managers and workers’ representatives are currently managing health and safety risks in Europe’s workplaces, with the focus especially on the growing area of psychosocial risks.
EU-OSHA will be making available practical tools for dealing with psychosocial risks in its forthcoming Healthy Workplaces Campaign, in 2014-15.
Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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