Initial risk analysis and preventive measures
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As part of the general risk analysis carried out in their company, the employer must identify situations that could lead to psychosocial risks at work.
They must take account of situations that can lead to:
- stress or burn-out caused by work;
- harm to the health of workers resulting from:
- work-related conflicts,
- moral harassment,
- sexual harassment at work.
The employer must evaluate the psychosocial risks by taking account of the dangers linked to the components
- the organisation of the work,
- the content of the work,
- the working conditions,
- the living conditions at work,
- the interpersonal relations at work.
Based on the risk analysis, the employer takes preventive measures to combat psychosocial risks at work.
These preventive measures can take three forms, depending on whether their aim is to eliminate dangers, prevent harm or limit harm.
The employer will only take these preventive measures if they have an impact on the danger.
- abolish work goals that are unrealistic or vague;
- distribute tasks between colleagues evenly;
- introduce a code of conduct;
If the employer observes, for example, that he cannot reduce the high demands placed on workers, they must prevent harm by adapting living conditions at work or working conditions. This will prevent harm to workers' health over time.
Similarly, if there is a violent dispute between two people within a service, rapid awareness by the employer or service manager will avoid the situation deteriorating to a point where any collaboration becomes impossible. The members of the line management also play a role in detecting psychosocial problems.
During a reorganisation period, it is helpful to provide appropriate communication to limit the psychosocial risks caused by change.
The procedures relating to formal and informal requests for psychosocial intervention help to limit harm.
The employer must also introduce emergency procedures to prevent or limit post-traumatic stress for workers facing traumatic events (i.e. events that have led to death or serious injury or have caused intense fear).
When, for example, workers suffer violence by third parties (e.g. during an armed raid on a bank), appropriate support for the workers will allow them to return to work more quickly and avoid too much post-traumatic stress. The legislation also contains a specific provision on psychosocial intervention for workers who have suffered third party violence.
The employer assesses the risks with the participation of the workers, for example via questionnaires (for quantitative results) or via discussion groups (for more qualitative results).
It is not necessary for all workers to be questioned. It may involve only workers who represent the different workstations, particularly in large companies.
The employer involves the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects in the following cases:
- when the Counsellor is part of the internal service for prevention and protection of work, he is always involved in the risk analysis and gives his advice on the preventive measures before the employer takes them;
- when the Counsellor is part of the external service for prevention and protection at work, he will be involved in the risk analysis and give his advice on the preventive measures only when the complexity of the analysis requires this.
The complexity of the analysis depends on two factors:
- the knowledge and skill available in the company in the area of psychosocial risks, including those of the Prevention Advisor in the internal service for prevention and protection at work. It can be assumed that service sector companies have fewer traditional risks to the health and safety of workers, which means that this Prevention Advisor can also deal with psychosocial risks.
- the complexity of the factors involved in the work situation to be assessed due to the areas of the work organisation, the content of the work, the working conditions, living conditions at work and interpersonal relations at work (e.g. number of workers, social climate, diversity of workstations, diversity of worker categories, complexity of the organisational structure, etc.).
It is the employer who evaluates the complexity of the analysis and decides whether the involvement of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects from the external service for prevention and protection at work is required for the risk analysis.
There are several possible levels of involvement, and the modalities for this involvement must be agreed between the external service and the employer. Involvement does not necessarily mean that the external service will carry out every stage of the risk analysis itself. This involvement will include at least providing information on analysis methods, an advice on the planned method and an advice on the results of the analysis. The involvement can be more comprehensive and consist, for example, of using questionnaires, organising discussion groups and/or analysing the results. The inspection service may require the involvement of this counsellor if it subsequently observes that there are shortcomings in the internal risk analysis.
For group C employers without a level I or II internal Prevention Advisor or an internal Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects and for group D employers
The external service must work actively to implement the general risk analysis with the employer.
It must include psychosocial risks in its collaboration, as the psychosocial risk analysis is an integral part of the general risk analysis.
The aim of the active collaboration of the external service is to ensure that the employer has a relevant risk analysis of a sufficiently high quality that they can implement an effective prevention policy. The level of involvement of the external service in this collaboration will depend on the circumstances of each company.
If the employer has the skills to carry out the analysis, the external service will provide feedback on the analysis results.
If the employer does not have the skills to carry out the analysis, given the complexity and diversity of the risks, the external service must collaborate to ensure that the analysis is carried out. Depending on requirements, the collaboration of the external service will involve facilitating the analysis, guiding the employer through each stage, or carrying out these stages itself.
The employer has the final responsibility for carrying out the analysis. The external service must make every effort to encourage the employer to perform the analysis. This role will also be described in the reasoned strategic advice issued by the external service.
This active collaboration is part of the fixed fee that the employer pays to the external service.
This fixed fee also includes the proposal of prevention measures based on the analysis results. The external service will propose general measures based on the risk factors detected and will evaluate the measures put forward by the employer.
However, this collaboration by the external service to implement the psychosocial aspect of the general analysis and the proposals for measures, must not automatically be performed by the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects from the external service. It can be carried out by another Prevention Advisor from the external service.
However, if the employer initially considers that the factors involved in the work situation to be assessed are complex in terms of psychosocial risk, they can ask the external service for the active collaboration of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects in assessing the risks and providing an advice on the measures. The external service will also assess the complex nature of the situation. The services of the Prevention Advisor for psychosocial aspects are also covered by the fixed fee.
The employer reports the results of the risk analysis to the Committee for prevention and protection at work and requests the Committee's advice on the resulting collective prevention measures.
- Firstly, with the prevention advisor of the internal and/or external service for prevention and protection at work.
- Secondly, with the competent regional directorate for Supervision of Well-being at Work.
- Questions on the interpretation of the legislation: in writing to the Directorate-General for Humanisation of Labour.