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Stress Risk Assessment and Management Case Study – GE Plastics

This case study demonstrates that assessing and managing stress risks need not be an onerous or expensive task, nor does it necessarily require a separate stress survey of all staff. In Equilibrium worked in a partnership approach with GE Plastics, and a logical, practical risk assessment and management process was followed. The process enabled GE Plastics to meet legal obligations under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to conduct a stress risk assessment and demonstrated a commitment to comply with HSE’s Management Standards for stress.

GE Plastics had already done important preparatory work related to stress management, but approached In Equilibrium for expert support with:

  • Training to provide managers with awareness and skills in managing stress risks
  • Surveying management actions to prevent and reduce stress at work
  • Feedback on the company’s workplace stress policy
  • Stress risk assessment consultancy

The full stress risk assessment and management process GE Plastics followed with support from In Equilibrium is summarised below:

Stress Policy

A policy for managing workplace stress was drafted by the HR Manager along with associated guidelines for managers.

Management Training

Training was provided for managers to raise awareness of stress and their role in preventing and reducing stress at work. The training was designed so that GE Plastic’s workplace stress policy could be successfully implemented by managers. The training course was delivered by the In Equilibrium consultant.

Web-enabled survey for managers, post-training. 2 months later, managers were surveyed to evaluate stress management activities and stress issues raised by staff. The results from the web-enabled survey were valuable as a source of data that could be used for stress risk assessment (see below), but also in demonstrating management actions to prevent and reduce stress and implementation of GE Plastics Workplace Stress Policy.

Stress risk assessment

A stress risk assessment was then carried out. At a meeting facilitated by the consultant, several sources of data were analysed, and action plans were developed for high priority stress-related problems (see below for an explanation of how the stress risk assessment was carried out).

Feedback from consultant

The consultant followed this up with a summary report and provided feedback on the policy and management guidance.

Action plans implemented and monitored

The action plans are now being implemented to minimise stress risks identified. These will be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis by the HR Manager

Policy launch

GE Plastics Workplace Stress Policy was formally launched.

Annual review

A further risk assessment will carried out and the policy will also be evaluated and reviewed at that time.

The In Equilibrium consultant in this case, describes the stress risk assessment process used:

“This stress risk assessment itself was very straightforward. Jim Law, the HR Manager, had developed a well-thought-out workplace stress policy (with accompanying management guidance notes). He was able to demonstrate to me that consultative mechanisms were being used appropriately to gather the views of employees toward stress risks at work. In addition, we had a number of valuable sources of data we could use, including existing survey data. This meant it was not necessary to do another ‘stress survey’, which saved a lot of management time and money. Our philosophy and approach to this type of work is to provide expert support where and when it is needed. In this case, because of the good preparation work Jim had done, all that was required was a day of training and some consultancy support with the stress risk assessment.

It would probably be helpful to describe what we did when we sat down together to analyse the stress-related data. We had 5 sources of data: (1) existing survey data from the CEO survey*; (2) data from our web-enabled survey of the managers; (3) absence data; (4) staff turnover data, and; (5) data from the HR Manager and others attending the meeting, who had also consulted with managers and staff on the main stress issues. For each source of data, we recorded any relevant (stress-related) results, categorised any issues arising in terms of the Management Standards (HSE), and then prioritised these for action. Once the analysis was complete, action plans were produced for stress problems of medium or high priority.

Overall, my impression was that GE Plastics does not have a major stress problem, and that stress levels are generally low within the company and not a cause for concern. Nonetheless, the process did highlight a small number of specific stress-related problems, and I facilitated discussion to develop action plans to minimise the risk. These action plans are now being implemented by the company in a structured way. I have recommended that this stress risk assessment process be repeated annually.”

*The CEO survey benchmarks employee attitudes related to business performance across all GE companies.

Jim Law, HR Manager at GE Plastics gives his perspective:

“In Equilibrium through their expertise provided a route map that brought us to the finish line. We had completed many parts of the required work but due to lack of internal expertise were unable to tie everything together and complete the requirements to the satisfaction of the HSE standards.

At our initial meeting we discussed the current situation and the desired state, In Equilibrium were able to provide a very clear proposal that met our requirements in terms of quality, cost and timescale.It was obvious that they had listened and understood our requirements as the delivery and execution was excellent.

The training provided was first class, the delegate feedback was very good and subsequent activities implemented by managers on site provided further testimony. A thoroughly professional job from start to finish and I would use the services of In Equilibrium in the future and would not hesitate to recommend them to other companies.”

To find out more about Stress Risk Assessment and Management, please contact Alastair Taylor, Director, In-Equilibrium on 0131 476 5027, or e-mail: [email protected]

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