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Risk analysis of psychological hazards

Viimati uuendatud: 15.10.2019

Risk analysis of psychological hazards

According to Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer must treat occupational stress like any other working environment hazard factor and assess the risk from the psychosocial hazards of the workplace to the employee’s health with a risk assessment.

For evaluating the psychosocial risks, the same five-step risk assessment process can be applied as is also used for evaluating the physical hazards.

  1. Ascertain the possible hazards that the employees could get into contact with. First, the employer must familiarize themselves with different psychosocial hazards to be able to spot those relevant for the specific company. When determining possible hazards that the organization could have, conversations with employees, conducted satisfaction surveys or the results from previous risk analyses could prove to be helpful.
  2. Evaluate which groups of employees are endangered. Several methods can be applied to achieve this; for example, evaluate existing data about employees’ illness days or departments’ staff turnover, use inquiries like occupational stress mapping, conduct individual interviews or interviews with the focus group, use already existing data from evaluations or satisfaction surveys.
  3. Determine the most significant risks according to the data analysis and, thereafter, develop possible solutions for alleviating these risks. Following data analysis and determining the most important general hazards, employees should certainly be involved in developing the solutions as they are the best experts about their work. It may occur that the wider problem emerging from the questionnaires has not been presented for developing solutions with sufficient precision, or that the employees’ help is required for the effective application of the risk alleviation measures. It must be remembered that the most effective are prevention measures on the organization level and, on the contrary, the most expensive to deal with occupational stress consequences.
  4. Results of the analysis and the related action plan must be drawn up in writing. The action plan must be sufficiently specific, incorporating also responsibilities, designated resources and timeline, in addition to activities.
  5. In the future, check the action plan execution. It is wise to regularly repeat the analysis to check the productivity of the applied measures and to detect newly arisen problems. It is obligatory to repeat the risk assessment when working conditions change or work-related diseases are detected.

In the risk assessment process, it is crucial to guarantee the confidentiality of data and anonymity of responders and participants at interviews – data must be collected and analysed only on the group level. It is important because otherwise, employees cannot be expected to openly share their opinions and problems, and for guaranteeing that no employees will be persecuted in conflict-prone situations. In a small organization where it is impossible to guarantee anonymity, the employees must be clearly notified of it during the analysis.

To evaluate psychosocial hazards, the employers can use a free online tool “Tööstressi kaardistaja” (Occupational stress mapper).

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