Psychosocial Risk Management in a European Comparison

Dans le Monde, Stress Travail et Santé

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The publication is based on the results of the project F2339 « Psychosocial risk management in the European Union », funded by the Hans – Böckler – Stiftung (HBS) and was realised from October 2013 to March 2016 at the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The responsibility for the contents of this publication lies with the authors.

The project „psychosocial risk management in the EU. Context, strategies and implementation at establishment level – a comparative european study“ (10/2013 – 3/2016) was funded by the Hans Boeckler Foundation and carried out by the BAuA.
The objective of this study was to use a qualitative, explorative research approach to acquire knowledge of basic conditions, constellations of players and processes of risk management under different conditions for actions. In this way, a deeper understanding of this process was to be acquired than was permitted up to now by studies on a quantitative level. For this purpose, the BAuA carried out ten establishment case studies (in hospitals, in the production sector and in hotels) on the implementation of psychosocial risk management in four european countries (Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Spain). The establishment – based interviews were supplemented by interviews with intercompany experts and document analyses which provided relevant information on the respective national context.
It became apparent that in the scandinavian countries, the framework conditions for the successful implementation of psychosocial risk management are more favourable than in the UK and in Spain. There were commonalities across countries in terms of consensual recommendations to structure the process of risk management, in terms of the existing variety of instruments and with regard to the theoretical foundation of the instruments that are used. At the same time, there were differences in terms of occupational safety and health cultures (e.g. regarding the issue of either combining or separating psychosocial and „traditional“ risk factors in risk management), in terms of participation culture and regarding the role of national players.
Despite all the differences between the respective national occupational safety and health cultures in the four countries that wer
e investigated, it is possible to draw general conclusions, which are also relevant to occupational safety and health practice in Germany. This relates in particular to the following aspects :
  • Consensus building among occupational health and safety players on approaches and methods with regard to risk management contributes to certainty in action and will reduce potential conflicts.
  • In company practice, the focus should be on the process of risk management, i.e. the operational activities from the initiation to the implementation of measures.
  • Strong participation rights of the employee representation as well as an established participation culture will facilitate the implementation of risk management.
  • Activating and using the practical „local“ knowledge (knowledge founded on experience), e.g. by specific surveys of workers, is an important success factor. At the same time, the selective use of external expertise may be helpful, particularly in the initial phase of risk management.

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