The Effectiveness of Labour Inspectors in Improving the Prevention of Psychosocial Risks at Work
Psychosocial risks at work are preventable through ergonomic design of the work organisation, working environment and tools. Taking appropriate action to tackle these issues belongs to an employer’s duty to protect health and safety at work under Swiss law and the law of many countries. Labour inspectors are responsible for checking workplace compliance with such regulations. This study assessed the outcomes of a Swiss national labour inspection campaign focused on psychosocial risks. A quasi-experimental research design was used, with two groups of workplaces (one inspected and the other, not) and two questionnaire surveys with an interval of one year. Inspected firms improved their management of health and safety and reported more competence for the management of psychosocial issues compared to the control group and their pre-inspection levels. They also demonstrated an increased willingness to take action on prevention issues. To a lesser extent, they were more likely to implement specific psychosocial risk management measures, particularly those aimed at individual support for stressed employees. However, inspection visits did not lead to increased employee participation in the prevention of workplace risks, improvements in work organisation, working schedules or staffing levels. Based on these results, it was recommended that the labour inspectors more strongly emphasise a prevention approach grounded in the assessment and improvement of job design, content and organisation.
KeywordsLabour inspection Psychosocial risks Stress Outcome Evaluation
This study was funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety, Switzerland. We are very grateful to every company and labour inspector who took part in it. We also thank Prof. David Giauque (University of Lausanne) and our colleagues Tarek Ben Jemia, Marc Huber, Samuel Iff, Stephanie Lauterburg Spori, Pascal Richoz, Margot Vanis and Christine Villaret D’Anna who assisted with the study.
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