4. Stress risk assessment

Employers have a legal duty to protect workers from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. You should assess the risk of stress, and its impact on mental and physical ill-health, in the same way as you assess other work-related health and safety risks.

If you have fewer than five workers, you don't have to write anything down. But it is useful to do this, so you can review it later, for example if something changes. If you have five or more workers, you are required by law to write the risk assessment down.

Any paperwork you produce should help you communicate and manage the risks in your business. For most people this does not need to be a big exercise – just note the main points about the significant risks and what you decided.

An easy way to record your findings is by using our risk assessment template, and there are example risk assessments on stress, that may help employers in small businesses:

Employers may also find HSE's Management Standards helpful. The standards help identify and manage six areas of work design which can affect stress levels – demands, control, support, relationships, role, and change. Our example risk assessments below show the kind of approach a small business might take. Use them as a guide to think through some of the hazards in your business and the steps you should take to control the risks.

Your risk assessment will help you to identify potential risks to your workers from stress and to take action to protect them. You could review policies on bullying, harassment, and discrimination, and check that your first aid needs assessment considers physical and mental health needs.

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Updated 2024-01-30