- Mental health is affected by psychosocial hazards which impact health through the stress response.
- The employer must assess psychosocial hazards during the risk analysis.
- The employee must notify the employer of any health disorders which might impede their performance and of any shortcomings in the arrangements.
Checklist for risk assessment without a web-based application (currently only available in Estonian)
In the determination of risk rating, take into account how many, if any, questions had the answer ‘YES”.
While the risk assessment mainly reflects the assessor’s subjective opinion of the risks, we recommend being more strict rather than too lenient when making the assessments. Being too lenient may give the result of a seemingly good situation where no measures need to be taken. Whether it really is so is another question entirely.
Level of risk 0 - All questions received a negative answer
Level of risk 1 - Out of all the questions only two received the answer ‘YES’
Level of risk 2 - One question in each section received the answer ‘YES’
Level of risk 3 - Five or more questions received the answer ‘YES’
The employer must already implement measures for risk reduction by risk level one, because instead of disappearing, tensions and problems tend to escalate over time and create even more problems.
Prevention of psychosocial hazards – what to do?
In the prevention of psychosocial hazards, it is most effective to react proactively – to prevent problems and damage. We should be two steps ahead of the problem. Experience shows that by the time work-related stress, health problems and absenteeism worsen, productivity and innovation are already decreasing. This has a significant effect on the economic indicators of the organisation.
The following factors create a good psychosocial work environment:
- employees are well-trained and have sufficient time to organise and carry out their duties;
- monotonous tasks are minimal or shared between employees, and employees are encouraged to take responsibility for their work;
- employees know exactly what is expected of them and they receive constructive feedback regularly (both positive and negative);
- employees are involved in work-related decision making and are encouraged to voice their opinion on, for example, working methods and schedules;
- fair distribution of duties, benefits, promotions and career opportunities;
- friendly and supportive working environment where additional resources can be used during the peak period;
- open and bilateral communication, employees are informed of developments, especially during organisational changes;
- specific measures are in place for the prevention of work-related stress, harassment and third-party violence, employees feel that their problems are addressed;
- employees can effectively balance their work and family life.
Employers can implement additional voluntary measures to improve the mental well-being of employees.
Some recommendations for the promotion of mental health and prevention of work-related stress
- Review the process and content of work, try to reorganise poor working processes.
- Increase the employee’s autonomy and control over their own work and working methods.
- Include employees in decision-making and problem-solving processes.
- Balance work efforts and rewards.
- Improve communication and feedback.
- Set clear roles and expectations.
- Encourage and strengthen social support.
- Offer and ensure further training and qualification.
- Offer training on cognitive-behavioural techniques.
- Use multi-modular methodology in training – videos, training groups, role playing.
- Train employees on how to instruct their colleagues.
- Ensure reasonable working and rest time for employees (overtime should not be the rule, evenings and weekends are for rest, not for fulfilling work duties).
(source: A guide for employers. To promote mental health in the workplace pp. 8–10)
Everyone benefits from risk prevention:
- employees: improved well-being and satisfaction with work;
- management: employees are healthy, motivated and productive;
- organisations: overall economic indicators improve; less absenteeism, coming to work sick, occupational accidents and injuries; reduced turnover of staff;
- society: lower costs and burden on individuals and society as a whole.
Psychosocial hazards at work (Guidance document of the Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee)
Third-party violence (ROTAL brochure)
Handbook: Addressing violence and harassment against women in the world of work (ILO and UN Women, in English)
Analysis of mental health in the working environment (Analysis by the Ministry of Social Affairs)
Mental health guides and materials
- Analysis of mental health in the working environment (Ministry of Social Affairs, 2019)
- Workplace health promotion survey 2019 (National Institute for Health Development, 2020)
Guides and materials:
- Mental health in workplace settings. Handbook for employers and employees (National Institute for Health Development).
- Traffic light support package for employees (Social Insurance Board)
- Restorative justice (Social Insurance Board)
- Psychological first aid training (Social Insurance Board)
- Psychological first aid guide for direct facilitators (Social Insurance Board)
- Violence, bullying and discrimination at work (Labour Inspectorate)
- Free from work-related stress (Labour Inspectorate)
- Interview tool for assessment of work-related stress (Senior Labour Inspectors’ Committee (SLIC) guidance material)
- Mental health first aid training (Peaasi.ee, paid training)
- Anxiety workbook (Health Insurance Fund)
- My mental health first aid: Workbook for young people and adults (Health Insurance Fund)
- Mental health tests (Peaasi.ee)
- OPSTI mini test
- Work-related stress questionnaire
More extensive materials: