A new guide to help employers assess and manage the workplace risks that could lead employees to suffer mental and physical stress has been published by the British Standards Institution.
The Publicly Available Specification or PAS 1010 ‘Guidance on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace’ was developed by BSI Standards. But it is now working with the World Health Organisation, the Health and Safety Executive and a number of other European and international bodies to develop a fully-fledged good practice standard.
The University of Nottingham, which is likewise helping to create the new standard, has also been tasked with creating relevant training courses, which will be aimed at HR managers, occupational health and safety managers, therapists and managers of small-to-medium enterprises.
Dr Stavroula Leka, associate professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Nottingham, said: “Work-related stress has been a priority in modern working life for the past years, but despite a number of good initiatives at national, European and international levels, there is still a clear need for an official benchmark in this area.”
The PAS was intended to help employers implement best practice in order to promote good health among their staff, she added.
Psychosocial risk management comprises the management of risks associated with the social context of work and the way the workplace is organised and looks at how these factors could cause psychological or physical ill health among personnel.
Undertaking such activity is mandated in the European Council Directive 89/391/EEC, which stipulates that it is an employer’s responsibility to assess and manage all types of risks to workers’ health.
The BSI pointed out that stress was one of the most common problems in modern workplaces, affecting the mental and physical wellbeing of more than 40 million employees in the European Union and costing the regional economy an estimated E20 million each year.
A PAS is a sponsored fast track standard that is developed by key stakeholders and endorsed by the BSI. After two years, each PAS is reviewed and a decision made as to whether it should become a formal British Standard.