Guidance on work-related stress
124 pages
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Guidance on work-related stress


Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus
124 pages


Publié par
Nombre de lectures 31
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 2 Mo


European Commission Guidance on work-related stress
Spice of life or kiss of death?
Employment Sc social affairs
Health and safety at work
European Commission
Directorate-General for Employment and Social Affairs
Unit D.6
Manuscript completed in 1999 The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position
of the European Commission, Directorate-General for Employment and Social
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Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication.
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2000
ISBN 92-828-9806-7
© European Communities, 2000
Reproduction isauthorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium CONTENTS
Stone-age reactions in modern organisational settings 3
What is stress? 3
Some work-related examples 4
Mainstreaming of stress prevention into organisational development 5
A better organisation of work 5
Ensuring proper training 6
Developing working time packages
Facilitating the diversification of working relations as
well as new forms of work 7
Ensuring optimum conditions for the introduction
and uptake of new technologies
Promoting workers ' motivation and adaptability
through increased involvement
Promoting equal opportunities
Education and training
Resolution of the European Parliament 8
The London Ministerial Declaration
Promotion of occupational mental health 9
Four recent initiatives 10
Is there a problem?1
Costs of work-related stress2
Work-related stressors3
Temporal aspects of the work day and work itself 13
Work content (other than temporal aspects) 14
Interpersonal - work group - supervision
Organisational conditions
Causes of work-related stress and ill health 15 Aspects of occupational stressors 15
Occupational demands 16
Decision latitude, control over one's working life 17
Social support 17
The demand-control-support model
Person-environment misfit 18
VDT-related work 19
Effort-reward discrepancy
Unclear or conflicting roles
Potential stressors of future work organisation 20
What are the manifestations of stress? 20
Emotional manifestations 21
Physiological manifestations 22
Is stress harmful? 22
Stress and health3
Heart disease and stroke 23
Musculoskeletal diseases
Anxiety disorders
Depressive 24
Accidents, suicides
Other diseases 24
Scope of the problem in the EU5
High-risk groups6
The young 26
Single parents
Elderly workers 27
The disabled
Increased vulnerability and exposure
Legal framework of work-related stress within the EU 27
Organisational consequences of stress 29
Preventive action - obstacles and options 30
Sense of coherence, and skills for life 31
Investment for health and productivity 32 PART II - THE CHALLENGE 35
Stress prevention programmes7
A multifaceted approach 37
Organisational and individual prevention 39
Strategy options for health promotion in the workplace 39
The Luxembourg Declaration on Workplace Health Promotion 41
Key elements for stress prevention at the workplace 42
A checklist of work-related stressors 45
Work over- and underload 45
Insufficient time for good job performance 46
Discrepancy between responsibility and rights
Unclear instructions and role organisational and personal goals and meaning
Lack of support 47
Lack or appreciation or reward
Lack of influence/decision latitude
Exposure to violence or threat of violence
Discrimination and bullying
Noxious physical work exposures 48
Inadequate capacity and skills
Mistakes causing high costs or risking other people's life or health 48
Risk of losing one 'sjob
Health promotion, and prevention of stress-related disease 49
Organisational prevention 4
Job redesign 50
Participative management
Flexible work schedules 51
Career development
Design of physical settings 52
Noise and vibration 52
Machinery and tools 53
Odours, illumination, climatic factors
Buildings and premises 54
Combined environmental stressors; reciprocal impact
of occupational and other influences
Improving relationships5
Improving shift work schedules 56
Examples of successful intervention programmes 5
The Swedish T50 Programme 56
The Belgian PRA 57
The A2000+ Programme 7
Look after your employee 58 A tripartite approach 58
Employees and their representatives 59
Employers ' associations and individual companies
Occupational health services, health insurance agencies
Are health promotion strategies effective? 60
European programmes 61
Three reviews2
A comprehensive proposal at national level
Internal control - a feasible way to create a healthier workplace 67
Norway 68
Belgium 69
Stress risk assessment tools 70
Diagnostic measures
From assessment to intervention1
Primary prevention for individuals2
Stressor-directed primary prevention 72
Response-directed secondary 73
Symptom-directed tertiary preven tion
Three targets, four questions 73
Enlightened self-interest4
Safeguards for individual workers5
Information, instruction and training
Roles and tools for workers, managers and their representatives 76
Spice of life or kiss of death? 77
Glossary of selected terms9
List of references 85
This is a Guidance on work-related stress prepared by the European Commission. Member
States and their social partners can use or adapt it as they choose, in line with national,
legislative and administrative arrangements in their territories. The aim of any resulting
national guidelines would be to raise awareness within the Member States that work-related
stress is a major occupational health issue and to encourage action to alleviate the cause of
stress in order to improve health and safety at the workplace and elsewhere in a cost-
effective and pertinent manner.
This Guidance provides general information on the causes, manifestations and consequences
of work-related stress, both for workers and work organisations. It also offers general
advice on how work-related stress problems and their causes can be identified and proposes
a practical and flexible framework for action that social partners situation, both at national
level and in individual compames, can adapt to suit their own. The focus is on
primary prevention of work-related stress and ill-health, rather than on treatment.
These recommendations should be considered in the light of Framework Directive
89/391/EEC, which states that "employers have a duty to ensure the safety and health of
workers in every aspect related to the work". The implications of this Directive in the
present context are discussed on page 27. Given the wide variety of working conditions
across Member States, across professions and across individual workplaces, the guidance
given is of a non-binding nature. It provides a menu from which the various actors can
choose a specific mix of measures to meet their own specific needs, going beyond
mandatory requirements, if they so wish.
One of the challenges in the present context is to target not only larger companies but also
the medium-sized and small enterprises (SMEs) and other work organisations.
This Guidance takes into account the views and recommendations contained in the Report
on Work-Related Stress by the European Commission's tripartite Advisory Committee for
Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work, and by its Ad Hoc Group on Work-Related
Stress (European Commission, 1997a). The latter was set up by the Advisory Committee
with a remit to investigate national and Community work and measures on work-related
stress and report on its findings to the Commission with a view to further action.
Part I provides relevant background information, including European and other Treaties,
Resolutions, Directives, Communications and other initiatives. It describes the incidence,
causes and consequences of work-related stress, defines the phenomena and provides a
number of examples. It also reviews present knowledge of who is at risk and the risks they
Part II describes the challenge the interested parties are facing in terms of a variety of
multifaceted organisational and individual approaches - their key elements, targets and
Part III is devoted to the full scope of options for action at various levels, including
Belgian, Norwegian and Swedish examples from the workplace, diagnostic measures and
primary, secondary and tertiary prevention, targeting both individuals and organisations.
To facilitate the use of this Guidance by all interested parties, the main concepts and terms
have been defined and an index and glossary have been added to help the reader to find
what he or she is looking for. The text is referenced to enable interested readers to review
the evidence and access more in-depth information.
The task of preparing this Guidance was entrusted to Lennart Levi, M.D., Ph.D.,
Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial Medicine, of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm,
Sweden. He was assisted in this task by Ms. Inger Levi, Director of Studies Eurostress, Stockholm, Sweden. The text was reviewed by Jaume Costa (European Foundation for the
Improvement of Living and Working Conditions), François Philips (ETUC) and Olivier
Richard (UNICE), all of whom have provided feedback. James Campbell Quick, editor of
the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, and the American Psychological
Association (APA) have kindly allowed us to use several quotes from their publications, as
indicated in the text. All this help is gratefully acknowledged.
We hope that this Guidance should prove useful for Governments and social partners in the
15 Member States and for others interested in occupational and public health.
Acting Director General