BSI to develop standard for management of workplace stress

Press release - 21 January 2010

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 and resulting in an estimated cost of around 20 million euro. BSI, the global standards, certification and assessment provider, and Nottingham University are now leading the development of a good practice guidance standard which will help those assessing and managing the risks associated with work-related stress. The World Health Organization is among the bodies represented on the steering group for the standard.

Psychosocial risk management (the management of risks associated with work organisation and the social context of work which have the potential for causing psychological or physical ill health) forms part of the European Council Directive 89/391/EEC, which stipulates the assessment and management of all types of risks to workers’ health as employers’ responsibility. There is currently no recognized standard or official benchmark for good practice for psychosocial risk assessment and management so the new BSI standard, called a PAS (Publicly Available Specification), will help assessors address this area of workplace health.

The standard, and accompanying training courses to be developed by Nottingham University, will be of major benefit to HR Managers, Occupational Health and Safety Managers, therapists, managers of small and medium sized enterprises.

BSI is leading the development of the standard with a steering group which includes 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.

Evelyn Kortum, World Health Organization (WHO), said: “WHO recognizes the impact of psychosocial risks at work as a public health issue, with 8% of depression attributed globally to environmental factors, in particular occupational stress. 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.”

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. Work-related stress has been a priority in modern working life for the past years but despite a number of good initiatives at national, European and international levels, 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.”

Mike Low, Director of Standards, BSI, said: “I am very pleased that BSI is leading the development of 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 will ensure the development of a document that shows agreed best practice.”

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About BSI

BSI (British Standards Institution) is a global organization that equips businesses with the necessary solutions to turn standards of best practice into habits of excellence. Formed in 1901, BSI was the world’s first National Standards Body and a founding member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Over a century later it continues to facilitate business improvement across the globe by helping its clients drive performance, reduce risk and grow sustainably through the adoption of international management systems standards, many of which BSI originated. Famed for its marks of excellence including the instantly recognizable Kitemark®, BSI’s influence spans multiple sectors including aerospace, construction, energy, engineering, finance, healthcare, IT and retail. With over 70,000 clients in 150 countries, BSI is an organization whose standards inspire excellence across the globe.