The Stress Risk Assessment Process
Whilst, ideally, the goal of the risk assessment process should be to remove all the identified hazards that may lead to workplace stress completely, this may only be possible in a limited number of situations. Often, the best we can do is to either reduce the risk, or the likelihood of it causing harm, through additional control mechanisms.
The amount an employer is expected to spend to eliminate, minimise or reduce a risk is dependent on the level of risk, as well as the number of people affected by it. So, if the risk is high and potentially impacts on several people, an employer would be expected to be prepared to invest more resource in reducing the risk, than in a case where it only impacted on one person to a minimal extent.
Stress Risk Assessments do not need to be complicated and the HSE describes a simple risk assessment process that involves 5 steps:
Step 1 – Identify the hazards – Employers should use the HSE Stress Management Standards to identify potential hazards, as well as considering any sector specific stress issues relevant to their organisation.
Step 2 – Decide who might be harmed and how – This generally means consulting employees and gathering all relevant management data, which should be relatively straightforward for smaller employers
Step 3 – Evaluate the risks, decide on controls and prioritise actions – This involves an assessment of how well current control measures are managing the risk factors that have been identified. Evaluating the likelihood of the risk factor occurring (taking into account the current control measures in place), against the impact that it would have on the organisation if it did occur, will help the organisation identify and priortise the additional actions needed to help manage and reduce the most significant risks.
Step 4 – Record your findings and implement them. Employers with 5 staff or more should keep a written record of their risk assessment. This stage is not just about recording but about reporting the results to staff. It also involves developing and implementing an action plan to improve how key risks are managed.
Step 5 – Review your assessment and update if necessary. This final step is about evaluating what has been done and deciding if it has been effective in preventing and reducing stress and making changes, if necessary.
Click here to download an example of a simple Risk Assessment Template.
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