Stress Risk Assessments & Psychological Wellbeing in the workplace

Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to protect employees from stress at work by carrying out a risk assessment and acting on it.

The Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are highlighting that risk assessments in the workplace are not just about physical risks such as slips, trips and falls; Display Screen Equipment; working at height or working in confined spaces. Workplace risk assessments must also consider the impact of psychological risks including source of workplace stress.


What is Stress?

Stress is the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them. There is a clear distinction between pressure, which can create a ‘buzz’ and be motivating, and stress, which occurs when this pressure becomes excessive.


It’s a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and costs over £5 billion a year in Great Britain. It affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their health but it also impacts on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost production and increased accidents.


Risk Assessment

For your risk assessment, if your company has fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down. However, it is useful to do this so you can review it later. If you have five or more employees, you are required by law to write the risk assessment down.


Any paperwork you produce should help you communicate and manage the risks in your business. For most people this does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points about the significant risks and what you decided.


Six Areas of Potential Stress

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have identified six areas of work design which can affect stress levels – demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

If these areas are not properly managed can have a negative effect on health and wellbeing; productivity and levels of sickness absence.


Recognising the importance of this subject, ISO 45003 was published in July 2021. This is the first global standard giving practical guidance on managing psychological health in the workplace. It provides guidance on the management of psychosocial risk, as part of an occupational health and safety management system and includes:


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