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Interventions as the centrepiece of psychosocial risk assessment - why so difficult?

Purpose: Due to the "European Union Framework Directive on Safety and Health at work" (Directive 89/391/EEC, 1989), every employer is obliged to avoid psychosocial hazards when designing work. Little is known empirically about the barriers that workplace actors experience while developing and implementing OSH measures that prevent psychosocial hazards. The purpose of this paper is to explore barriers, causes and attempts to overcome them and discusses them with reference to relevant theoretical concepts and models that help to explain how these barriers hinder the development and implementation of OSH measures.

Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews with workplace actors in charge of psychosocial risk assessment (PRA) were conducted in 41 business cases, and transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Barriers, causes and attempts to overcome them were extracted inductively and discussed with reference to relevant theories and explanatory models.

Findings: The complex nature of psychosocial risks, hindering general beliefs, lack of a perceived scope for risk avoidance, lack of assumptions of responsibility among players on all hierarchical levels, discrepancies between formal responsibility and decision authority, and low reflexivity on processes of development and implementation of interventions were described as barriers. Causes and attempts to overcome these barriers were reflected upon by workplace actors.

Practical implications: Recommendations on the organisation of PRA will be given with respect to the reported results and relevant research in this field.

Originality/value: This qualitative study explores the barriers to developing and implementing OSH measures to eliminate psychosocial hazards, from the perspective of actors in charge of PRA, and why they might fail.

The complete article is published in the "International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health".

First Online: 28 November 2019

Bibliographic information

K. Schuller:
Interventions as the centrepiece of psychosocial risk assessment - why so difficult?. 
in: International Journal of Workplace Health Management, Volume 13, Issue 1 2020. pages 61-80, Project number: F 2358, PDF file, DOI: 10.1108/IJWHM-07-2018-0098

download file "Interventions as the centrepiece of psychosocial risk assessment - why so difficult?" (PDF, 250 KB, Not barrier-free file)

Research Project

Project numberF 2358 StatusOngoing Project How companies do psychosocial risk assessment

Find out more : How companies do psychosocial risk assessment …

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