RR537 - The suitability of HSE's risk assessment process and management standards for use in SMEs

HSE developed Management Standards, a 5-Step Risk Assessment Process and supporting information for tackling high levels of work-related stress in large organisations. This report details the measured acceptability of a trial-specific adaptation of this guidance for Small or Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Distinct elements in HSE guidance were identified and then considered using specific criteria for SME suitability for inclusion into one of three printed volumes: 1) justification and process description, 2) analysis & recording tools, 3) supporting information.

Ten SMEs applied the guidance in a longitudinal study over at least seven months. This used interview administered questionnaires with one respondent from each SME. These measured initial buy-in, then acceptability midway and at the end for each element. Initial ratings of usefulness and acceptability for elements were favourable. These rose further still with familiarity and practical application.

Redundant information reduction and more emphasis on business benefits is recommended to enhance the initial buyin. Structure and content amendments, the inclusion of personal self-assessment tools and case studies relevant to SMEs, are also recommended. It is concluded that SMEs can successfully apply the materials unaided to conduct a structured risk assessment process and identify improvements that reduce stress and benefit their business.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2021-04-20