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How to manage psychosocial risks in the workplace BSI publishes the first guidance standard

04 May 2011

Psychosocial risks at work are a major cause of stress. Stress is one of the most common problems of the modern workplace, affecting the mental and physical well-being of over 40 million workers in the European Union each year, with costs to business being estimated at €20million.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) — global standards, assessment and certification provider — has published a good practice guidance standard to help those assessing psychosocial risk in the workplace. PAS 1010 (Publicly Availably Specification) Guidance on the management of psychosocial risks in the workplace will help assessors address this area of workplace health.

An organization should manage its psychosocial risks, as much as its organizational culture and employee relations, to ensure that it is taking action to protect itself from poor performance and from being sued. Psychosocial risk is covered by the European Council Directive 89/391/EEC, which stipulates the assessment and management of all types of risks to workers' health as the employers' responsibility.

Both the standard and accompanying training courses to be developed by Nottingham University will benefit HR managers, occupational health and safety managers, therapists, managers and owners of SMEs.

The steering group responsible for the development of PAS 1010 included representatives of Nottingham University, the World Health Organization, the Health and Safety Executive, the PRIMA-EF consortium, the European Commission and several other European and international occupational health and safety organizations.

Dr Stavroula Leka, Associate Professor in Occupational Health Psychology, University of Nottingham said: "This is an exciting initiative in an area of crucial importance for the promotion of health and well-being… there is still a clear need for an official benchmark in this area. The PAS will assist organizations to implement best practice in the area of psychosocial risk assessment and management so that they can promote good health among their staff."

Evelyn Kortum, World Health Organization (WHO) said: "The development of a standard in psychosocial risk management will provide a welcome basis for policy development in traditional and emerging risks affecting the modern workplace."

Mike Low, Director of Standards at BSI said: "I am very pleased that BSI has published a guidance document in this important area. The standard will prove extremely valuable for all those responsible for the carrying out of psychosocial risk assessments to help address work-related stress. BSI's proven consensus-based processes have ensured the document comprises agreed best practice."

For further information on PAS 1010 visit www.bsigroup.com/pas1010.

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