At stage one of the risk management process, the objective is to identify hazards and to assess the level of harm being caused (either at an individual or organisational level). Employee-related outcomes that are frequently used as indicators of strain include measures of employees’ physical health, psychological well-being and job satisfaction. Behavioural measures are less often included, but common measures are absenteeism and productivity. This chapter discusses the second stage of the risk management model, risk evaluation. This is an important stage, as it evaluates the extent of the harm caused by workplace stressors, that is the risk associated with the level of stress in the workplace. The situation for many organisations is that they are aware that occupational stress may pose a hazard, and that there are a number of effective ways that the associated harm can be mitigated, e.g. stress counselling. However, few conduct risk assessments that include an analysis to evaluate the extent to which hazards are likely to have negative outcomes. The calculation of risk factors allows some quantification of the risk associated with workplace stressors.
A risk factor is related to both the stress level (E) and the probability of a negative outcome (P). Risk control strategies need to consider both the stress level and the efficacy of individuals/groups at coping with the stress (the extent to which it is translated into negative outcomes). It is possible that a workplace demonstrates a high level of a particular stressor, such as aspects of the job (e.g. arduous physical working conditions); however, due to the levels of social support available within the work group and individuals’ effective