Stress Risk Assessment Meaning & Definition | EcoOnline
Health & Safety Glossary

Stress Risk Assessment


What is a Stress Risk Assessment?

A stress risk assessment is a detailed evaluation of different sources of stress in the workplace. Employers often conduct an assessment to determine if they can mitigate these risks to provide a safer working environment.

Identifying potential sources of workplace-related stress is critically important in modern work environments. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees, as it has a direct impact on their health and wellbeing. 

The Importance of Conducting Stress Risk Assessments

Numerous studies have indicated that stress is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified stress as a hazard that can lead to injury, illness, and even death.

That's why it's so important to conduct a stress risk assessment at your workplace. By identifying sources of stress and implementing solutions to mitigate those stressors, you can create a safer, healthier work environment for your employees.

How to Conduct a Stress Risk Assessment

Depending upon the industry and the nature of the business, the exact approach for conducting a stress risk assessment will vary. However, the broad steps are largely similar, as outlined below.

Step 1: Identify Sources of Stress in the Workplace

The first step in conducting a stress risk assessment is to identify potential sources of stress in the workplace. These can include factors like working long hours, tight deadlines, demanding customers, or challenging work tasks. 

Other sources of stress include risky work conditions, improper safety protocols, working with dangerous machinery, or not providing adequate safety equipment. Once you have identified potential sources of stress, it's time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Determine Which Employees are at Risk

Once you have identified potential sources of stress in the workplace, the next step is to determine which employees are most at risk for experiencing those stressors. 

To do this, consider factors like job roles, seniority level, amount of experience, and personal circumstances (e.g., single parent households). 

This is important because every employee has a different threshold for managing stress. There are several ways to identify employees that are most at risk. 

One of the most effective ways is to use the PSS (Perceived Stress Scale) questionnaire, created by Dr. Sheldon Cohen. This 10-item questionnaire asks respondents to rate how often they’ve experienced various symptoms over the last month. 

The symptoms include things like feeling unable to control important aspects of your life and feeling nervous or on edge. 

To complete the questionnaire, employees are asked to answer each question on a scale from 0 (never) to 4 (very often). 

Once they have completed the questionnaire, the surveyors just add up the total score and compare it to the following interpretive guidelines:

  • 0-13: Low stress 
  • 14-26: Medium stress 
  • 27-40: High stress 
  • 41-52: Very high stress 

As is obvious, employees that have higher scores are the most at risk. Using this information, employers can take action, such as offering professional help or reducing their workload.

Step 3: Mitigate Sources of Stress in the Workplace

The third and final step in conducting a stress risk assessment is to mitigate the sources of stress in the workplace. 

This can be done by implementing policies and procedures that address specific sources of stress (such as instituting flexible work hours to reduce employee fatigue). 

It's also important to provide employees with resources that can help them cope with stress (e.g., an Employee Assistance Program). 

By taking steps to mitigate sources of stress in the workplace, you can create a safer, healthier work environment for your employees.

Stress Risk Assessments Must be Conducted at Regular Intervals

An important point to note here is that stress risk assessments must be conducted regularly, as the sources of stress are constantly changing. 

For instance, at certain times during the year, employees may have to work longer hours to meet tight deadlines. This naturally increases stress, as it affects work-life balance. 

Another example is when the company installs new machinery in its facility. New machines might pose different hazards, and add to the various sources of stress available in a facility. 

Conducting regular stress risk assessments also makes it easy for employers to better understand if they are doing enough to mitigate stress in the workplace and to ensure the wellbeing of their workers. 

Use EcoOnline to Identify and Mitigate Potential Sources of Stress

EcoOnline’s Health & Safety Software is designed to help employers identify various sources of stress and to specify any remedial steps. 

Employers can use the platform to create checklists showing potential workplace stress sources, and the steps they have taken to mitigate these risks. It also allows employees to easily report hazards or near-misses, as well as any positive observations.