Consideration of psychosocial factors in workplace risk assessments: findings from a company survey in Germany

Research paper by David Beck, Uwe Lenhardt

Indexed on: 13 Feb '19Published on: 13 Feb '19Published in: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health


Work-related psychosocial risks are an increasingly important issue in occupational safety and health (OSH) policy. In Germany, as in many other European countries, employers are legally required to carry out workplace risk assessments (WRAs) and to account for psychosocial factors when doing this. The aim of this study was to expand the still scarce and sketchy empirical evidence on the extent to which employers comply with these obligations, as well as on possible determinants of compliance behaviour.Survey data from 6500 German companies were used to calculate the prevalence of workplace risk assessments that include psychosocial factors. Furthermore, multinomial logistic regressions were performed to explore which company characteristics influence the chance of psychosocial risk assessment occurrence.The prevalence of psychosocial risk assessments was 21%. Next to company size (OR = 5.7, 95% CI 3.0–11.0), availability of safety specialist assistance (OR = 3.5, 95% CI 2.6–4.6), availability of occupational health specialist assistance (OR = 3.4; 95% CI 2.6–4.4) and inspection by OSH authority (OR = 3.4, 95% CI 2.4–4.7) were the strongest predictors of psychosocial risk assessment occurrence. Smaller (but still significant) effect sizes were found for the level of knowledge about legal OSH requirements, training of managers in OSH, economic situation of the company, presence of a works council, positive view on the benefit of OSH, affiliation with the production sector and magnitude of psychosocial risks within the company.The study results indicate large deficiencies in the implementation of psychosocial risk assessments, especially for small companies. Findings suggest that enhancing companies’ utilisation of professional OSH experts and strengthening the advisory and control capacities of the OSH inspection authorities in the area of psychosocial risks would be beneficial for improving the current situation.