Risk classes to consider in a psychosocial risk assessment

18/05/21 

En las empresas existen condiciones de trabajo y de la organización del mismo, que pueden perjudicar a la salud de los trabajadores, que son conocidos como riesgos psicosociales. La exposición a dichos riesgos de naturaleza psicosocial pueden ser los causantes de problemas de salud como por ejemplo ansiedad, estrés, depresión, úlcera de estómago, dolor de espalda y contracturas.

The evaluation of psychosocial factors is a tool whose main objective is to provide information that allows the psychosocial diagnosis of a company or partial areas of it, in order to be able to establish improvement actions appropriate to the risks detected and the environment in which they must be carried out.

Psychosocial risks are fundamental for all sizes of business and in all business sectors: administration, industry, construction, services, etc.

The study of organizational and psychosocial aspects and their relationship to occupational health is not new, although the importance and recognition it has acquired in recent years.

In some companies and in some positions psychosocial risks are mostly the most characteristic and important risks that must be assessed and considered where appropriate when planning and adopting preventive measures.

Both traditionally considered risks and psychosocial risks should be included in the risk assessment process, taking into account how important confidentiality is.

When taking questionnaires on the psychosocial risks described, it is important that they are oriented to prevention, using the results obtained to implement improvements in the organization of work. For this reason, the participation of prevention technicians, managers, workers, and all the actors involved is essential during the evaluation process and the planning of preventive activities.

Psychosocial risks can be classified by different criteria into different large groups. For example, and in the spirit of being exhaustive, depending on their origin, they can be classified into three large groups:

  • the group of risks related to the overall organization of work (consider communication, participation, turnicity, leadership style or technological changes)

  • those relating to the specific tasks of each worker (for example, such as autonomy, attention, role definition, task content, job training, or time pressure)

  • those relating to employees' social interactions (for example, personal and work relationships between employees and relationships between employees and relevant persons outside the company such as customers or suppliers.

The main psychosocial risk groups

Psychosocial risks are organized into six groups, which group the different working and organizational conditions that can result in problems that directly affect the performance and well-being of workers.

Psychological demands

  • Quantitative psychological requirements: relationship between workload and time available for it. That is, they exist when the amount of work is greater than the time allocated for its completion. And its causes can be under staffing and poor time measurement when designing tasks.

  • Emotional psychological demands: are defined as those that affect feelings. They are common in professions related to the provision of services to people, where the professional tries to empathize with them, and with their feelings and emotions.

  • Demands to hide emotions: hide feelings and opinions from customers, suppliers, etc. for professional reasons, such as the demand in business policy or the lack of support from colleagues and superiors.

Burnout or Professional Wear

As in the case of stress, professional wear and tear is the result of a chronic work and organizational stress process that ends in a state of emotional exhaustion and demotivating fatigue for work tasks. Its character of occupational risk comes from the extent achieved, the important labour and personal consequences they may have and the fledgling legal concern of jurisprudence.

If you differentiate stress as a psychosocial risk in its greater effects on emotional exhaustion, steadily than on the physical one, and its consequent loss of job motivation.

Control over work

  • Influence: autonomy and workers' decision-making margin on tasks and methods to be used; quantity and quality of work; and other aspects related to the content of the work. Also with respect to working conditions such as location, colleagues, etc.

  • Time Control: autonomy or decision-making power of the worker with regard to his working time and rest, such as permits, breaks, vacations, etc.

  • Possibility of development: opportunities to apply knowledge and skills available to the worker, including day-to-day learning skills at work.

  • Enterprise Integration: workers' commitment to the organization

Insecurity about the future

This aspect includes different aspects that imply a feeling of insecurity: both contractual, as that caused by unwanted changes in schedule, mobility, salary, payment method and other working conditions.

Job insecurity could be defined as a general concern about the existence of work in the future, and also as a perceived threat of different work characteristics, such as position within an organization or career opportunities

Social support and leadership quality

  • Role Clarity: a clear definition of the tasks, functions to be performed, objectives and autonomy, within the role to be played by the worker.

  • Predictability: establishes whether the worker has the information he needs and at the time he/she requires it in order to do his job well. This dimension is used to make it easier for the worker to adapt better to possible changes, such as new technologies, new methods, new tasks, restructurings...

  • Social support: refers to the availability of help, both by colleagues and superiors, to perform a task or solve problems.

  • Possibilities of social relationship: socially related in work with colleagues, clients, subordinates, superiors, etc.

  • Group Feeling: it usually occurs when there is a good working environment and there is an affective relationship between colleagues. This dimension will determine the quality of social relations.

  • Leadership Quality: it is related to the ease of dialogue, transmitting orders, getting team members to work efficiently and resolving potential conflicts, from the management or superiors of the organization.

Double presence

This psychosocial risk is related to conciliation, and today it continues to affect many working women. Since the demands of work and those of the domestic sphere coexist, a double workload arises.

Appreciation

It refers to respect and recognition on the part of superiors. It represents psychological compensation in exchange for the effort made to carry out the work

The nature and severity of the damage will depend mainly on the type of risk factor, its intensity, duration, frequency, predictability or controllability as well as the meaning it has for the person concerned as well as its resources to deal with the situation.

In addition, the consequences will not only have an impact on the health of workers, and at the labour level – dismissals, change of roles, abandonment, etc.– but social, family, partner relationships, as well as society at large will also be affected.

Loss of job quality entails costs, costs that are often difficult to observe in the short term, but always present in the medium and long term.

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