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IIRSM initiative on Work-related Stress and Psychosocial Risks

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) website1 states that psychosocial risks and work-related stress are among the most challenging issues in occupational safety and health as they impact significantly on the health of individuals, organisations, and national economies. In Europe, around half of all workers consider stress to be common in their workplace and it contributes to around half of all lost working days. Like many other issues surrounding mental health, stress is often misunderstood or stigmatised. However, when viewed as an organisational issue rather than an individual fault, psychosocial risks and stress can be just as manageable as any other workplace health and safety risk.

In recent years, the problem has been made worse as new working methods gain popularity, such as teleworking, hot-desking, home working, temporary/part-time working, internships etc. These practices have obvious advantages for employers as they no longer have to provide the same level of accommodation to their employees and office size can be reduced by up to 30%. Clearly there are advantages to introducing adaptable working environments such as maximising the number of employees who use the same work stations in the case of hot-desking, but these practices also have disadvantages. For instance one of the main disadvantages of home working is that some employees find it hard to create a work/life balance and may suffer as a result2.

IIRSM strongly supports EU-OSHA’s efforts to address psychosocial risks more widely and is pleased to announce collaboration with University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and other academic and commercial partners to run a full day forum at UCLAN, Preston Campus later this year. There are several key areas the forum will address:

  • To highlight and raise awareness of several stress and psychosocial risk-related issues such as bullying and harassment in the workplace, domestic violence and abuse, workplace culture etc. We believe that these create a huge impact on employees’ wellbeing and their performance;
  • To address the perception of psychosocial risks within the organisational hierarchy (i.e. workplace culture at different levels within the organisation);
  • Importantly, we will be discussing possible interventions which would help to minimise the risks to both individual employees and organisations.

Furthermore, IIRSM is developing a workshop for senior managers and a training programme for line managers, particularly those with HR responsibilities, to help them understand and address the importance of managing psychosocial risks in the workplace. The programme will help them to design appropriate strategies in order to minimise the impact of their staff and their business. I will keep you updated in future blogs about the launch of this training programme. Meanwhile, to find out more about the upcoming Psychosocial Risk event, please visit the events page of IIRSM website:


1.European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2014) “Psychosocial Risks and Stress at Work”, [Online], Available from: [Accessed 18thAugust 2014]

2.Bayt (2014) “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Working from Home”, [Online], Available from: [Accessed 19th August 2014]

Dr. Shahzeb Ali Malik, Technical and Research Manager

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