European managers concerned by work-related stress

79% of European managers are concerned by work-related stress, but less than a
third of companies have set procedures to deal with it. Concern about
psychosocial risks such as stress, violence and harassment is increasing in
European organisations, the first findings of the biggest workplace health and
safety survey in Europe show. The new data was released on 3 June 2010 by the
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) at the mid-term review
conference of the Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work (2007 -

Psychosocial risks concern most European companies
Four out of five European managers express their concerns about work-related
stress, the 'European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks' (ESENER)
reveals, making stress at work as important as workplace accidents for
companies (79%). Work-related stress is very acute in health and social work
(91% of companies regard it as of some or major concern) and in education (84%).

"With the financial crisis in full swing, 79% of European managers voice their
concern about stress at work, which is already recognised as an important
burden on European productivity", said EU-OSHA Director Jukka Takala at the
conference in Barcelona. “But despite the high levels of concern, it is clearly
worrying that only 26% of EU organisations have procedures in place to deal
with stress. The ESENER survey highlights the importance of providing effective
support for enterprises to tackle stress, which will be crucial in ensuring we
have the healthy productive workforce needed to boost European economic
performance and competitiveness”.

The survey also shows that 42% of management representatives consider it more
difficult to tackle psychosocial risks, compared with other safety and health
issues. The sensitivity of the issue (53%) and lack of awareness (50%) are the
main barriers for dealing effectively with psychosocial issues, according the

Workers’ involvement is a key factor in health and safety management
ESENER shows that workplaces with employee participation are much more likely
to see successful health and safety measures implemented. This is particularly
the case for smaller workplaces where it is an important trigger for effective
management of psychosocial risks.

In fact, 84% of companies with formal on-site employee representation have an
occupational safety and health (OSH) policy or action plan, compared to only
71% of companies without formal representation. Measures to deal with
psychosocial risks such as violence, stress and bullying are applied about
twice as frequently by enterprises consulting their employees than by those
designing their measures without the participation of employees.

Small size need not be an obstacle to effective risk management
ESENER found that the main barriers for dealing with health and safety issues
are lack of resources (36%) such as time, staff or money and lack of awareness

Survey evidence also shows that even smaller companies are able to carry out
in-house risk assessment, but need support in the form of expertise, guidance
and tools to manage their risk management process effectively and to design and
implement successful preventive measures.

Through its campaign and information services EU-OSHA is working to raise
awareness on workplace hazards and promote comprehensive and integrated risk
management. EU-OSHA makes available a number of products to make this process
easier, especially for small andmedium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A new 'Risk
Assessment Tools Database' brings together checklists, handbooks, brochures,
questionnaires and interactive tools from across Europe, and is freely available from the website. An ‘Online interactive Risk
Assessment tool’ (OiRA) is currently being developed and should encourage and
help many thousands of European SMEs across all sectors to carry out risk

In the context of the Community Strategy for Health and Safety at Work
(2007-12), it is important to know how workplace risks can be successfully
managed and what the obstacles can be to achieving this, so that future OSH
strategies can be better planned and supporting measures are tailored to
companies’ needs. The ESENER survey is a unique pan-European indicator of OSH
performance that should assist policy-makers evaluate the progress and
implementation of the Strategy.

More information - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work