During the debate on the Social Dialogue and Employment in 2015 legislation in 2015 and 2016, amendments, backed by many MPs, proposed to include burnout into the list of occupational diseases and integrate it into the existing compensation system. This proposal was not accepted; as a result of these debates, the Bureau of the Committee on Social Affairs of the National Assembly decided to set up an information mission. In 37 public hearings, the voices of victim associations, mental health professionals, psychiatrists and psychologists, representatives of trade unions and employers' organizations, public bodies and sectoral social dialogue were gathered. The report presents the available figures, while recalling that establishing the prevalence of burnout must be part of a very rigorous methodology.
The Minister of Social Affairs and Health, instructed the High Authority for Health (HAS) on 27 April 2016 to "draw up recommendations of good practice for occupational physicians and general practitioners on the identification, prevention and the management of burnout. The report provides a short analysis of changes in work organisation (e.g. the impact of open space, irregular working times, etc.) and managerial styles as well as professional training of managers and career paths as well as presenting figures on prevalence and costs. It concludes with 27 recommendations ranging from the establishment of an observatory and the recognition of occupational diseases to rights of workers´ representatives and training of middle management.
Sexual harassment and violence in the workplace often lead to very serious consequences for the victims. Two infographics show key data on these issues, explaining the concepts and highlighting the need to take these issues very seriously.
The Healthy Workplaces Campaign is wrapping up nearly two years of promoting the importance of managing psychosocial risks and stress in workplaces across Europe. Over this time much has been done to raise awareness, thanks in a large part to the dedicated efforts of more than 30 National Focal Points and their networks, over 100 Official Campaign Partners, and 34 Media Partners.
According to EU-OSHA Director Dr Christa Sedlatschek, ‘It is now abundantly clear that stress can hit any of us, at any time, over our working lives regardless of age, or sex, or status. The good news is that the campaign has comprehensively shown that stress can be beaten. My hope now is that we recognise stress as something unacceptable and that we feel empowered to tackle it together.’
Director Sedlatschek was speaking to a group of over 300 delegates who gathered at the Healthy Workplaces Summit last month in Bilbao, Spain to mark the close of the campaign. Among them were occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals, decision makers, policy advisors, representatives of employers and trade unions, and others. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on the successes of the campaign, lessons learned, to exchange good practice and foster discussion on managing stress and psychosocial risks in workplaces, especially putting research into practice.
One such piece of useful research providing much-needed data to policy-makers is the ESENER 2 survey results. Among questionnaire responses from thousands of businesses across Europe, 58 % said that the most commonly reported psychosocial risk factor is dealing with difficult 3rd parties (clients, pupils, patients), followed by time pressure (43 %). Meanwhile 53 % reported not having sufficient information on how to include psychosocial risks in their risk assessments.
Other research made available includes the release of the report ‘Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention’ and the publication on ‘Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks.’
To put good stress management into practice, the was released as another chief component to the campaign. Available in 33 country language versions, the online tool has been designed to respond to the needs of employers and people working in small enterprises by helping them to approach the management of psychosocial risks and stress in their work environments and to foster awareness and understanding of it.
Other key moments were the hundreds of specialised events organised by National Focal Points that took place across Europe including seminars, film screenings and information sessions, as well as a series of benchmarking events hosted by Official Campaign Partners to share best practices. Plus more people than ever before got active on social media to exchange and share best practices and information about stress at work using the hashtag #EUmanagestress.
Throughout the campaign, special topical focus was given to different types of psychosocial risks such as organisational change, bullying, third party violence, sexual harassment, time pressure, long working hours. Some of these issues were exemplified by the Healthy Workplaces mascot, Napo, in his film .
But that’s not all, a new Healthy Workplaces campaign is just around the corner. To be launched in spring 2016 under the theme ‘Healthy Workplaces for All Ages’, this new campaign will concentrate on developing sustainable working lives. It will aim to raise awareness of the importance of good occupational safety and health management at any age and tailoring work to individual abilities.
We would like to thank everyone again for their involvement in EU-OSHA’s efforts to make Europe a safer, healthier and more productive place to work and invite you all to stay tuned for more announcements about the next campaign in the New Year!
In its continuing series of live sessions and debates about best corporate policies and practices, Edenred recently hosted an event focusing on the role of companies in stress management and work-life balance of their employees.
Around 50 participants representing a variety of companies and organisations were on hand in at a morning info session in Brussels on 22 October to hear more about workplace stress, the state of play and possible involvement of stakeholders to reduce it. The event was the eighth info sharing session on corporate policies and practices to be hosted by Official Campaign Partner Edenred.
Speakers included Dr Francisco Jesús Alvarez Hidalgo, Deputy Head of Unit on Health, Safety and Hygiene at Work, European Commission’s DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, and Stephan Atsou, Director Continental Europe from CrossKnowledge. The event was moderated by Nicolas Vincent.
They discussed tools available at the EU level to encourage national action and to disseminate best practices, including the Healthy Workplaces Campaign. They also talked about ways to fight stress at an organisation by offering some key takeaways and good practices for participants. The message that investment into occupational safety and health, including stress management, is cost-effective for an organisation was also underscored.
Edenred, a world leader in prepaid corporate services, works to design, develop and manage a range of solutions that are continuously adapted to meet the needs of employers and employees and to improve the quality of life and well-being of employees as well as to enhance their performance at work.
An online summary of the event is available.
A video summary of this session plus others is also available.
EuroCommerce and UNI Europa, social partners for the commerce sector, are carrying out a study on the health, safety and well-being of retail and wholesale employees. The main objectives of the project are to raise awareness health and safety issues and to exchange experience and good practices related to implementing EU Health and Safety directives in the sector.
The study will further strengthen cooperation between EuroCommerce and UNI Europa and is focused on three main themes: ergonomics (mainly muscular skeletal disorders), stress at work (work-related stress including absenteeism, turnover and physical stress) and psychological risks (including third party violence and mental health risks). One of the ultimate aims of the project is to develop a tool-kit based on good practices identified for each main theme.
In order to gather comparative information for the study, a survey in the form of a questionnaire has been developed and is being circulated among EuroCommerce members. The purpose is to gather basic information from all European Member States and to identify innovative and exemplary projects.
More than 3 million people working in the European commerce sector have been victims of verbal and physical attacks from customers while working in a retail or a wholesale company. The effects of these attacks can have devastating consequences for the victim because of the negative psychological impact, resulting in the diminished quality of life at both personal and professional level. It is hoped that the results of both the survey and the study will aid in alleviating this.
A series of workshops will be organised in the first part of 2016 with members to further explore the themes.
A huge variety of special events took place across Finland the week of 9-14 November as part of the ‘Super Week for Wellbeing at Work’, held in order to raise awareness about occupational and safety health (OSH) issues, including stress management. Everything from chair massages in shopping malls and a train station commuter choir got people to stop and check their stress.
The Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress Campaign was promoted in Finland via number of events that took place right across the country and coordinated by the Finnish Focal Point. Perhaps the most visible action was a series of roadshow style visits to shopping malls across Finland to raise awareness about workplace stress. The public and passers-by were invited to ‘Hurry and ask … take a break’ – or in other words to stop and pause for a minute to learn more about stress at work and to share their ideas on the subject. Bloggers and radio programmes promoted the shopping mall visits towards the public and when visitors stopped by, they were treated to chair massages as they pondered importance of wellbeing at work.
But that wasn’t the only place the campaign promoters reached out to the public. A live choir was even on hand to entertain commuters at a busy train station with songs encouraging them to ‘stop hurrying’ (so as to reduce their stress). Campaign information was also distributed at special workshops and information points. Everywhere people were handed little, orange anti-stress balls.
At the same time, exercise sessions were organised at break times at actual workplaces in order to reach out directly to employees. These were done both in person and virtually in case workers wanted to join in on the workout via their laptops. Videos with young people talking about the ways in which they are happy with their jobs was also made available online.
Overall it was an eventful week that managed to raise lots of attention around the topic of workplace wellbeing and the importance of reducing stress.
Official Campaign Partners HOSPEEM and EPSU jointly hosted a conference in Helsinki, Finland on 10 November for social partners about approaches to the issue of psychosocial risks and stress at work in the hospital/healthcare sector. They highlighted good practices for assessing risks and identified prevention measures.
The conference was realised by HOSPEEM (the European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association) and EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) with the support of EPSU’s affiliates JHL, Superlitto, and Tehy. The conference brought together about 85 participants from more than 20 European countries and gave sector-specific attention to the role and initiatives of social partners from local to national and European levels.
The conference was held in the context of a joint project of HOSPEEM and EPSU titled ‘Assessing health and safety risks in the hospital sector and the role of the social partners in addressing them: the case of musculoskeletal disorders and psycho-social risks and stress at work’, which has been carried out with financial support from the European Commission.
Presentations from Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom illustrated how preventive actions, risk assessment and good management of psycho-social risks and stress at work can contribute to improved workers’ health and safety, to better quality care for the patients, to more attractive retention conditions for the workforce in the hospital sector and to improved efficiency in the management of healthcare institutions.
The European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) represents national employers’ organisations at the European level that operate in the hospital and healthcare sectors.
The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) has over 265 affiliates in about 45 countries that organise around 8 million public service workers in sectors such as energy, water and waste, health and social services and local and national administrations.
An additional 250 persons followed the conference via live-streaming.
At an award ceremony held in Brussels on 20 October, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) honoured the 2015 winners of its PRAISE awards. The award scheme recognises organisations that have taken outstanding measures to improve road safety at work.
The ETSC reports that using the road for business is the leading cause of work-related death and injuries and it is estimated that six out ten work accidents that result in death are from road crashes, either while driving for work or commuting. This is why the ETSC wishes to highlight the efforts of organisations that are working to tackle the problem.
At the ceremony, ETSC Executive Director Antonio Avenoso said that, ‘Road safety is everyone’s business. But organisations, large and small, have a pivitol role to play by putting road safety considerations at the heart of their operations.’
Three categories were awarded in total. The winner for the ‘Large company award’ is oil and gas company OMV Petrom (Romania) that won for their integration of vehicle monitoring systems to cover their fleet of 10 000 vehicles and for introducing road safety requirements for their contractors
The winner of the ‘Public authority award’ is Transport for London (United Kingdom) who won for their safety programme that includes carrying out a risk assessment of all of their 3 820 drivers and for reporting and investigating all collisions, incidents and near misses.
There was also an award category for ‘Small and medium-sized enterprises’ and for that the winner is the Institute of Advanced Motorists (United Kingdom) who carried out an online and on-road risk assessment of all staff who drive for work and for their annual targets to reduce total mileage overall plus collisions.
Meanwhile the efforts of two organisations were highly commended. First is pharmaceuticals company Astra Zeneca for setting safety targets and their safe driver campaign which includes in-vehicle telemetry systems for high risk drivers, and Police Luxembourg for the risk assessment of all employees, including mandatory advanced road safety training for special units and equipping vehicles with accident data recorders.
More information can be found on ETSC’s Praise awards website.
In the last in their series of webinars linked the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign, CSR Europe will this time focus on how technology can improve prevention in mental health. All interested managers are invited to tune in and engage with the speakers on this important topic that will take place on 10 December at 16.00-17.15 CET.
In the fourth and final webinar hosted by CSR Europe participants will get the chance to dive deeper into the opportunities that technology can offer organisations, companies, and individuals to prevent health issues, especially those related to stress. Speakers will present new eHealth apps that are available to target mental health management in companies, but also to explain the benefits and limitations related to the use of such technology.
Participants will be able to engage and discuss online with the experts who include Dr Helen Riper, PhD and professor for eMental-Health and clinical psychology, and a representative from the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions (ISRII), plus a couple of representatives from companies that will be able to offer insight into their experiences.
As an official partner of the Healthy Workplaces Manager Stress campaign CSR Europe is committed to raising awareness around the importance of managing psychosocial risks, stress and mental health in workplaces across Europe. As such they took the initiative to organise four webinars that took place over the course of 2015, starting with one on the topic of ‘Mental health at work - are you fit for the challenge?’ in February, followed by ‘Effective mental health promotion strategies at work’ in May. The last webinar took place in September and was title ‘Public-private partnerships for higher impact of mental health promotion’.
Each webinar usually has about 50 participants of which the majority (70 %), are representatives from companies.
You can also contact Aron Horvath for more information: email@example.com.
On 31 October 2015, the CPME Board adopted the ’CPME Declaration for EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces Campaign ‘Manage Stress’’.
CPME Declaration for EU-OSHA Healthy Workplaces Campaign ‘Manage Stress’
The Standing Committee of European Doctors (CPME) represents national medical associations across Europe. We are committed to contributing the medical profession’s point of view to EU and European policy-making through pro-active cooperation on a wide range of health and healthcare related issues.
CPME is proud to be a partner of the 2014-2015 ‘Healthy Workplaces’ campaign hosted by the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work (EU-OSHA).
CPME has a long-standing interest in occupational health and has repeatedly stressed its interrelation with mental health. The constant evolution of the economy and of the labour market creates new workplaces and -profiles which in turn reflect in the impact they have on workers’ health. One observable and positive trend is the increased general awareness for the psychosocial impact of the workplace, which sees conditions such as stress becoming a major burden for individual workers and their families, the enterprises and the broader economy as well as society as a whole. Stress also interacts with other mental and physical health problems, in particular non-communicable diseases such as musculoskeletal disorders or depression, thus creating a vicious circle.
The prevention and management of stress among workers, including doctors and other health professionals, is therefore a primary objective. European doctors reaffirm their commitment to
- Promoting best practices for the prevention of stress and the treatment and rehabilitation of related health problems
- Engaging with patients, employers, social partners and other stakeholders in the development of policies to prevent and manage stress
- Ensuring cooperation between doctors, in particular occupational physicians, general practitioners and psychiatrists, to enable a patient-centred approach to preventing and treating stress-related health problems
- Promoting participation and sustainable employability
- Promoting a culture of ‘Healthy Workplaces’ by raising awareness for psychosocial risks to health in the workplace, at enterprise and policy level
 Examples of CPME policies on occupational health and mental health: CPME Occupational Health Charter, adopted in 1980; CPME Statement on Occupational Health, adopted in 1999; Mental Health in workplace settings “Fit and healthy at work”, adopted in 2009; CPME Statement on the Management of Chronic Conditions, adopted in 2013; CPME Policy on Mental Health at the Workplace – from the perspective of a practising physician, adopted in 2014
Alejandra Tomei, Alberto Couceiro and Rita Bakacs © DOK Leipzig 2015 / Foto: Jonathan Skorupa
‘Automatic Fitness’ by Alejandra Tomei and Alberto Couceiro from Germany, and ‘Tagelöhner Syndrom’ (Work For One Day) by Rita Bakacs, also from Germany, were jointly awarded the 2015 Healthy Workplaces Film Award. The two films, presented at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film (DOK Leipzig), tackle the issues of being out of work, and conversely being overworked – both major causes of work-related stress and ill-health.
Automatic Fitness is an animated satire on the modern working world which takes the meaning of the term ‘human resources’ to its extreme. It shows a world where work and life have become a relentless conveyor belt and people act more like medicated robots, monotonously undertaking tasks before rushing to the next one.
Work for One Day is a documentary style film charting the dead-end nature of precarious work in a Berlin job centre. Director Rita Bakacs follows her protagonists (all of them male) who visit the Neukölln Job Centre every day from 4 in the morning in the hope of getting one of the in demand day jobs – hard work for little money, and often no work at all.
The jury explained their reasons for awarding a joint prize by saying that, ‘These two films – we think – are very much related – one is about having no work, the other about being overworked. We would like to make a joint award because these two films support each other and are complementary, and should be shown together.’
The winning directors will share a prize fund of € 5 000 and receive subtitled versions of their films from EU-OSHA to promote healthy workplaces in all EU countries. EU-OSHA hopes that these films inspire and stimulate filmmakers to produce more films on OSH-related topics.
The Healthy Workplaces Film Award, supported by EU-OSHA, now in its seventh edition, recognises documentary and animated films which engage audiences in occupational safety and health issues that workers face around the world. Last year’s winner ‘Harvest’ followed a group of grape-pickers in the south of France and showed how a diverse group can work together to form a special community. Other winners have focused on challenges in certain sectors such as in prisons (C(us)todians, winner 2013) and goldmines (All that Glitters, 2010).
The award helps foster discussion in Europe on the importance of occupational safety and health (OSH) and takes a central role in the Healthy Workplaces Campaigns by helping to promote safe and healthy workplaces. Each year, the winning film is presented at screening and debating sessions organised by EU-OSHA’s focal points, which help the OSH message to reach an even wider audience.
This Healthy Workplaces Campaign has already seen film screening events of previous Healthy Workplaces Film Award winners take place in Poland, Spain and Austria, among others. Screenings of this year’s winning films are also planned, so be sure to check the events page for details on upcoming film screenings happening near you in the 2nd half of 2016.
EPSU and HOSPEEM organise conference on ‘addressing psychosocial risks and stress at work in the hospital sector’
On 10 November 2015 in Helsinki, Finland, two Official Campaign Partners of the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress Campaign, the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) and the European Hospital & Healthcare Employers’ Association (HOSPEEM) will host a conference focussing on approaches to tackling the issue psychosocial risks and stress at work in the hospital sector.
The conference will particularly focus on the role social partners can play in preventing and reducing these risks, along with introducing good practices. The aim is to help identify the main risks, challenges as well as solutions in the hospital/health care sector and to work towards an agreement and commitment on what social partners at all levels can and should do to reduce and eliminate the risks.
The two organisations, with support from the European Commission, are currently undertaking a joint project to promote occupational safety and health. “Psychosocial risks and stress at work” and “musculoskeletal disorders” have been identified as the two main focal topics.
This event follows a first conference held in Paris in March 2015, which focused on musculoskeletal disorders in the hospital sector. Presentations from this conference are available to download.
In Europe around 2.5 million workers report a sexual harassment incident annually, but only 4 % of victims ever talk to their employer about it. This means that sexual harassment in the workplace remains a serious psychosocial risk and the consequences on individual employees can be detrimental. But there are steps employers can take to prevent it.
Perhaps some of the most obvious examples of sexual harassment that spring to mind are physical ones, such as hugging or touching, as well as verbal, like suggestive comments or jokes. But nowadays this also includes cyber harassment such as offensive emails, text messages or inappropriate advances on social networking sites. In fact sexual harassment is simply any form of unwanted conduct of a sexual nature that violates a person’s dignity and makes them feel intimidated, humiliated, or degraded.
Sexual harassment could happen to anyone, but women in particular are almost three times more likely to be sexually harassed, especially between the ages of 18-39. They are also more likely to experience this within what are more thought of as ‘male-dominated’ jobs such as police personnel, or in roles which require greater interaction with members of the public such as nursing, waitressing, etc. Perhaps most surprising is that an estimated 75 % of women in top management positions have also experienced sexual harassment.
As a serious psychosocial risk, sexual harassment has major consequences for both victims and their work. Victims often end up suffering negative feelings ranging from annoyance and anger to shame, fear, and anxiety. This can have a considerable impact on his or her work, such as reduced morale, performance and productivity. Beside the individual suffering sexual harassment also affects workplace productivity as it may result in absenteeism and high staff turnover, not to mention possible legal costs and damage to a company’s reputation.
A zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment is the only way to handle such issues. According to the ESENER II survey however, only 48 % of workplaces across the EU currently have procedures in place to deal with harassment (of any kind). For those that don’t, employers are urged to tackle the problem through several key steps, among them: implementing a policy; raising awareness; establishing a reporting system; following up complaints; implementing disciplinary measures; and forbidding retaliation against complaints, witnesses and others.
In its efforts to tackle psychosocial risks and stress at work, the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign has recently produced a useful infographic on sexual harassment and encourages everyone to share it in their workplace and with their OSH network on social media to help raise awareness (#EUmanagestress). Additionally, for more information, an in-depth OSHwiki article can be also consulted.
Another successful European Week for Safety and Health at work has come and gone. The week of 19-23 October saw activities take place across Europe to continue raising awareness of psychosocial risks and stress at work. Many events were dedicated to wrapping up two-year national campaigns but there were also workshops, conferences, film screenings, social media campaigns, as well as lots of activities focusing on psychosocial risks in particular areas such as education and in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Christa Sedlatschek, director of EU-OSHA, marked the European Week by opening a conference in Denmark on the impact of good psychosocial management on job satisfaction and productivity. The conference focused on research into the relationship between mental health and safety and productivity at work. A selection of Danish companies that recently introduced processes to improve psychosocial conditions at work demonstrated how this led to a more efficient workflow and greater satisfaction among customers and employees.
Psychosocial risks in the education sector was in the spotlight at events in Portugal and Romania. The event in Romania brought together school inspectors and teachers to present the latest developments concerning stress management at work in the context of the educational system in South-Eastern Romania. In Portugal discussions focused on the working conditions of teachers and ways to improve well-being at work.
In Austria companies were recognised as examples of best practice in relation to stress prevention and management. Meanwhile, in Cyprus a conference included an award ceremony to honour the winners of the National Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards 2015.
Iceland held a seminar which presented the consequences of stress at work such as work-related injuries and unpleasant work environments, while also discussing various methods to reduce stress; from re-organisation of the work environment, to psychological measures and physical exercise.
Throughout Spain more than 80 events took place to raise awareness of psychosocial risks and offer practical advice and good practices in dealing with issues such as harassment in the workplace. In Barcelona, an interactive workshop on preventing psychosocial risks in SMEs identified the needs and deficiencies present and explained what measures companies should implement to manage risks in the short and medium term.
Events with a more public focus included the Info Point event in Coimbra, Portugal. Held in a shopping mall, visitors were informed about various aspects of stress at work and the role of prevention in overcoming psychosocial risks through a quiz and the Napo film….when stress strikes that was projected at the info point.
Also reaching out to the public were the Central Institute for Labour Protection, national focal point for EU-OSHA’s campaign in Poland, who launched a Facebook campaign to spread information on stress throughout the week. A campaign video was also screened in medical facilities in over a dozen places throughout Poland and a special edition of the Institute’s newsletter was published entirely dedicated to psychosocial risks.
EU-OSHA also produced two new infographics on sexual harassment and third party violence which gives key data, explains the concepts and highlights necessary measures at workplace level to prevent and tackle them.
Even if for many countries the European Week for Safety and Health at Work was a chance to wrap-up campaign activities, there are still more events to come such as the Healthy Workplaces Film Award presented at the DOK festival in Leipzig, Germany from 26 October to 1 November. So don’t forget to check the campaign events page regularly for updates on events and activities that may be happening near you and follow the campaign in Twitter #EUmanagestress!
The Healthy Workplaces Summit 2015 will take place on 3 and 4 November in Bilbao, before work gets started on next year’s campaign theme ‘Healthy workplaces for all ages’. And the European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2016 will be back next year in October focusing on this new theme.
Participants assemble for a group photo at the Siemens benchmarking event in Berlin.
Siemens, official campaign partner and winner of the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards 2015, hosted a successful benchmarking event last week at their historic company headquarters in Berlin, Germany.
On 14 and 15 October, Europe’s largest engineering company Siemens opened their doors and invited fellow official campaign partners, clients and stakeholders to participate in a special benchmarking event that featured a mix of factory tours, workshops and a networking dinner at Berlin’s historical ‘Kaisersaal’.
The factory visits were reportedly one of the key highlights. For a company that was a forerunner in utilising OSH procedures since its founding in 1847, participants were able to observe such practices in action at the ‘high voltage switch gear manufacturing unit’ and at their ‘Dynamowerk’ factory, where customised large-scale drilling equipment is produced.
Lars Hoffmann, Head of Corporate EHS Safety at Siemens, summed up the company’s satisfaction with the event by saying that, ‘It was a great pleasure for us to host this benchmarking event at Siemens. We are happy that participants were pleased about the tour of our plants in Berlin as well the knowledgeable and engaging speakers who led the workshops providing new ideas and food for thought. The fruitful discussions with experts from all over Europe are without a doubt one of the success drivers for continuous improvement in occupational safety and health.’
The workshops covered several topics that are relevant for the partners. First up a workshop on the campaign topic of psychosocial health and wellbeing was held where Dr Ulrich Birner from Siemens presented the company’s approach to managing psychosocial risks for which Siemens had received a Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Award earlier in the year. In the same workshop Dr Christine Gericke from BG ETEM followed up with some best practices for small companies, which was complemented by a presentation of the German government’s strategy to tackling stress at work made by Andreas Horst, from the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
In parallel another workshop was held on the topic of road safety. The German Road Safety Council presented the success that they’ve encountered by implementing bespoke, one-on-one trainings with drivers, while PTOLEMUS Consulting Group discussed the advantages of new ‘user based insurance’ solutions for companies by utilising ‘black boxes’ in worker’s vehicles to monitor individual driving patterns. Prof. Dr Rüdiger Trimpop from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena concluded the session by talking about risks, challenges and solution for occupational traffic safety.
Meanwhile, a third workshop focused on experiences and expectations in contractor management, including a look at ways in which procurement can help to reduce stress in the workplace.
Last but not least, the fourth workshop presented the theme of the 2016-2017 Healthy Workplaces Campaign: Healthy Workplaces for all ages. Organised by Tom Schalenbourg, Director of Sustainable Development at Toyota Material Handling Europe, the session featured a sneak preview of the upcoming campaign from EU-OSHA’s Dietmar Elsler. It also gave some insight into good practices already being implemented by Siemens, such as a special ‘age’ suit that is used to help design ergonomic workspaces for older workers. Prof. Dr Viktoria Büsch was also on hand to speak about how changing demographics are affecting employment in the modern world.
Summing up the benchmarking event, Dr Dietmar Elsler from EU-OSHA said that, ‘Our two days in Berlin were extremely productive and they have demonstrated the very strong commitment of the Official Campaign Partners. It is so encouraging to see, and it shows that benchmarking and the exchange of good practice is extremely valuable to campaign partners. We hope that our close cooperation will continue in the coming years and particularly within the context of the next campaign.’
During the European Week for Safety and Health at Work – running from 19 to 23 October – 89 activities will take place in 46 cities across Spain, including film screenings, technical days, workshops and courses. The events are aimed at raising technical knowledge and establishing a culture of prevention around one important message: health and safety at work concerns everyone.
The activities complement EU-OSHA’s ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’ campaign to promote awareness of the importance of managing psychosocial risks in workplace as well as the tools available for organisations to address workplace stress, which is the second biggest work-related health problem after musculoskeletal disorders.
The Spanish National Institute for Safety and Hygiene at Work, as national focal point for EU-OSHA’s campaign, will present best practices in psychosocial interventions aimed at eliminating or reducing exposure to risks. The activities planned will target key players in prevention along with students who will be the future experts, as well as companies and workers.
The events have been organised by members of the Spanish Network of Safety and Health at Work and by numerous entities who actively cooperate with the campaign.
EU estimates suggest that 25 % of citizens will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime, and 10 % of long term health problems and disabilities can be linked to mental and emotional disorders. Mental health problems are often the result of bad management of psychosocial risks such as poor work-design and high workloads. However, the successful promotion of mental health has been shown to reduce the costs of absenteeism and associated management time.
There are many reasons why employers should make efforts to reduce and prevent psychosocial risks at the organisational level, one being that they can lead to mental health problems. In the UK, studies show that mental health problems such as stress, anxiety and depression account for 60 million lost working days each year. Mental health problems also account for more loss of productivity for companies than most other health problems, with depression alone costing around €118 billion a year in Europe.
Studies and statistics mentioned in an OSHwiki article on the subject indicate that poor organisation and management of work plays a significant role in the development of mental health problems. Across research findings, psychosocial issues - lack of job control, low decision latitude, low skill discretion, job strain, and effort reward imbalance - have been found to be associated with the risk of depression, poor health functioning, anxiety, distress, fatigue, job dissatisfaction, burnout and sickness absence.
Whilst demands at work were found to increase the risk of mental disorders, social support and high decision authority were found to decrease the relative risk. Risks also vary across professions. For nurses and paramedical staff the pressure associated with decision-making was an identified as a key risk factor; whilst, in contrast, professionals and managers in general identified poor relationships with superiors.
Measures to tackle mental health problems in the workplace can come at both the organisational level as well as target specific individual needs. Overall, it is important that strategies and initiatives to promote mental health and wellbeing be developed and implemented in a coordinated effort by those responsible at all levels, and should include employees. Involving workers is a concrete enactment of job control which demonstrates organisational fairness and justice, and builds mutual trust between workers and supervisors.
An important first step on the organisational level is the identification of workplace risk factors and, in turn, the modification of the physical and psychosocial work environment to eliminate and/or reduce identified risks. Other organisational measures that tackle psychosocial risks include implementing flexible working hours, programmes to improve role clarity and expectations, workplace relationships, job design and ensuring rewards and recognition for good performance.
Actions targeting specific workers will depend on an individual’s needs. For example, mental workloads can be improved by modifying job roles, free counselling could be provided, or access to exercise programmes or time management training can be offered. The key is to provide individuals with resources and support to help maintain their wellbeing. In turn, this will cultivate a sense of coherence to affected workers who will be aware that support is available if and when it is required.
A guide for employers and a guide for employees have been produced by EU-OSHA’s campaign partners, the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP) which detail what each party can do to improve and promote mental health in the workplace. A third guide is also available which makes the business case for mental health.
The event takes place in Bilbao
The 2015 Healthy Workplaces Summit brings together leading European experts and decision makers. They get together to exchange good practices and explore future strategies for managing stress and psychosocial risks in European enterprises.
The event takes place on 3 and 4 November 2015 in Bilbao, Spain and closes
the 2-year Healthy Workplaces Campaign on ‘Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work’.
From 19-23 October campaign activities will take place across Europe
Get ready because The European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2015 is nearly here! Taking place from 19 to 23 October, this year once again a host of events are being held across Europe as countries wrap up their national campaigns for the year.
Now is the perfect time to start planning if you want to take part in one of the many events and activities taking place across Europe. Visit our events page to find out what’s happening in your area and further afield. To stimulate your appetite we have highlighted some of the interesting events and conferences taking place.
In Hungary a closing conference will take place on 20 October in Budapest. Topics on the agenda include: new occupational risks; occupational and psychosocial risks in air traffic management; and the economic impact of work-related stress management. Belgium’s closing seminar takes place on the same day and will focus on activities implemented in the country during the campaign, the results of the ESENER 2 survey, and what Belgian tools are available for managing psychosocial risks.
In Romania several events are planned, including a seminar in Iasi on 21 October to celebrate 10 years of the European Network for Education and Training in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), as well as the relationship between OSH institutions, the educational sector and companies in the management of psychosocial risks. A forum prior to a conference with the Labour Inspection Service will be held the next day.
Spain has seen more and more partners getting involved in the Week every year. This year is no exception with more initiatives planned than ever before. Some 80 events will be taking place across the country. They include an information session in Barcelona on 20 October on the new protocol for treating psychological harassment, a technical day in Valencia on a comprehensive approach to psychosocial factors for companies and employees the same day; and a closing event in Madrid on 22 October focusing on awareness, participation, good practices and the prevention of psychosocial risks.
Austria will also host a closing event on the same day in Vienna which will focus on the results of their two year campaign. A similar event will also be held in Sweden on 23 October, which will also mark the 125th anniversary of the Swedish Work Environment Authority.
Events by Campaign Partners
Official Campaign Partners will also be marking the week with various events around Europe. The European Work Hazards Network (EWHN), for example, will hold a closing event in Milan, Italy on 23 October. B-A-D in Germany will host a conference in Würzburg on the risk assessment of mental workloads, while the Federation of European Ergonomics Societies (FEES) will dedicate its European Month of Ergonomics to the ‘ergonomics for managing work-related stress’ using events to promote collaboration between ergonomists and occupational health and safety experts to work together.
On 21 October EU-OSHA’s media partners in Italy, ABEO News, will host an event with the National Council of the Italian Order of Psychologists entitled ‘Work-related stress: evaluate and manage the risk’ in Rome. The aim is to help spread the message of the importance of recognising and effectively managing psychosocial risks in the workplace.
The Week will follow this year’s campaign theme – raising awareness of managing stress and psychosocial risks at work – and should get people talking more about the issue. Some of the topics that will be revisited during the Week include third party violence and sexual harassment in the workplace. Two infographics will be released to inform people about these issues and to be shared with your colleagues, contacts and on social media.
If you want to participate but do not know what is happening in your area you can contact your national focal point who will be able to point you in the right direction. If you are organising an event and would like it mentioned on the events page of the campaign website use the contact form to let us know.
GPA winner - Zavarovalnica Triglav, Slovenia
Zavarovalnica Triglav is an insurance company with offices across Slovenia and over 2 000 employees. They received an award at this year’s Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards for their actions to tackle psychosocial risks related to management and work organisation issues, including initiatives to improve communication and the treatment of workers, and to promote a healthy work-life balance.
When employees at Zavarovalnica Triglav took an annual survey to measure the organisational climate and several psychosocial risks were subsequently identified, the company decided to take action to avoid consequences such as stress, burnout and a poor work atmosphere for workers. And from this the Triglav.smo programme was born. Its long-term aim is to improve the management of psychosocial risks, and improve the health, satisfaction and enthusiasm of each and every employee.
At organisational level, lectures, education programmes, traineeships and workshops were started on managing workloads, stress management and improving communications and relationships in the workplace. The company’s new programme also targets management with initiatives such as a ‘leadership school’ for the coaching of managing directors, conferences for leaders to improve communication and information flow, and a manual for leaders detailing the most important tasks all managers must undertake.
Cooperation between employees and between different divisions was also encouraged and job evaluation and promotion criteria has been improved to help employee career development. What’s more, a psychologist has been put in place to provide counselling for employees, particularly if they have suffered from traumatic events like threats, attacks or robbery.
Since the introduction of the Triglav.smo programme significant progress has been noted. Recent annual surveys of employees showed that the organisational climate rating is improving. Absenteeism has fallen every year since 2008 and the satisfaction and enthusiasm of employees has significantly increased along with cooperation between units, departments and services. Accidents at work have decreased and continue to do so.
On receiving the Good Practice award Ms Marica Makoter, member of the management board and Employees’ Director stated that: “We constantly seek to create a working environment in which employees feel safe, satisfied and efficient. As a family-friendly company, we endeavour to reduce stress in workplaces and to effectively manage health-related problems.”
The aim of the Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards is to help raise awareness of stress and psychosocial risks in the workplace. Many of the initiatives introduced by this and the other awarded projects are easily transferable: surveying employees, setting up programmes tailored to employees’ needs, and improving communication are just some of the ways companies can easily begin to effectively manage risks in the workplace. Hopefully best practice examples like Zavarovalnica Triglav will inspire and motivate other companies to follow in their footsteps.
More information on this project and the other winning and commended entries to the 2014-15 Healthy Workplaces Good Practice Awards is available in an online brochure.