Greater labour market flexibility, the development of information and communication tools and the global economic crisis have contributed to the appearance of new occupational risks, psychosocial risks (PSRs), especially in SMEs. These are the findings of a group of researchers at the University of Granada, within the framework of a European project entitled “Participative prevention of emerging PSRs in SMEs”.
According to these researchers, although companies are taking an increasing number of measures to combat physical, chemical, biological risks, etc., few actions are taken to prevent PSRs. Through a lack of information and resources, employers apparently have great difficulty responding to these emerging risks.
Based on interviews carried out with managers of SMEs, employer representatives, trade unions, occupational risk prevention technicians and researchers, the authors of the study listed the main causes of the emergence of psychosocial risks in Spain:
- Job insecurity: Workers have the impression of losing control of their working life and personal life. They suffer stress, burn-out and depression. The most serious cases are reported in workers subjected to insecure contracts.
- Greater work intensity: Workers have the impression that the workload is increasingly heavy and that workplaces are increasingly demanding psychologically. This makes it hard to reconcile working life and private life.
- The constant search for improved competitiveness: This accelerates work rates. Situations of harassment are increasingly widespread and relations between colleagues deteriorate.
- New technologies: Workers increasingly need training to upgrade their skills. They suffer from a feeling of insecurity due to under-qualification.
According to Diaz Bretones, the project coordinator, European and national public policies for the time being merely involve campaigns of information and training on PSRs in SMEs. He adds that “the only way to combat the present dangers is to encourage initiatives for independence and empowerment, with active participation by workers, in parallel to advisory and psychological support services”.
To find out more (in Spanish)