Identifying Stress Risk Factors Identifying Stress Risk Factors

If there are existing indicators of stress in your team (maybe as a result of high staff turnover or high sickness absence, or there is a doctor's sickness absence certificate identifying stress) then contact your Human Resources Manager.

The following process is for preventative risk assessment when there are not already clear indicators of stress.

Undertaking a risk assessment for work-related stress is no different from risk assessing any other safety or health hazard.

Risk assessment should be a five step process:

  1. Identify the hazards (stress risk factors)
  2. Identify who may be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risk
  4. Put in place controls (see What can be done? sections below) to reduce the risk to an acceptable level
  5. Review the assessment at regular intervals or when changes have made the assessment invalid or inadequate

Steps 1 to 3

To carry out a stress risk assessment, you need to identify the stress risk factors that may be of concern in your team.  "Risk assessment of Work-Related stress" describes the stress risk factors.

To evaluate the risk and determine the stress risk factors of concern, use the HSE Stress Indicator Tool.  Get all your staff to fill out this questionnaire (keep the results anonymous) which should take less than 10 minutes for each of them to fill in.

Feed all the results obtained into the HSE Stress Indicator Analysis Tool.  The output of this tool will give you an indication where you might have stress risk factors which are of concern.  It does not measure stress, nor does it tell you who is suffering from stress.  However, what it does give you is an indication of areas to work on to avoid stress in your team.

Step 4

When you have the results from the tool, get a focus group of your staff (but not including you) to discuss any stress risk factors of concern and how to address them.  The focus group can use "Risk assessment of Work-Related Stress", or any other published guidance, or their own ideas for managing the stress risk factors of concern in your team.  Take the output of this focus group and implement measures to address the issues.  One year later, carry out the same exercise to see how successful it has been and to further refine management arrangements to avoid stress.


If you have any queries about this Safety Subject or require additional resources, please contact University Safety Services.

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Date Last Updated: August 2018