The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, or EU-OSHA, has created an e-guide for managing stress and “psychosocial risks” in the workplace.

While stress is one of the main causes of lost workdays in Europe, less than one-third of European employers have implemented procedures to address work-related stress, according to EU-OSHA.

“The e-guide is a practical tool to help both employers and workers, particularly of small businesses, better understand and manage stress and psychosocial risks,” the agency said.

The e-guide is available in several national versions, and EU-OSHA said it will publish 34 country-specific versions that are adapted to the legislation, context and language of each nation. Each e-guide also directs users to relevant national resources on stress and psychosocial risks.

“Although we cannot see or measure stress in the same way as many other health problems, it is a very serious issue,” said Dr. Christa Sedlatschek, director of EU-OSHA. “It can affect workers both emotionally and physically, but businesses and the economy in general also can suffer at the hands of stress.

“Just like dealing with other OSH issues, tackling stress and psychosocial risks is both possible and worthwhile, and the launch of our e-guide puts a practical tool into the hands of employers and workers. It includes explanations, advice and examples, demonstrating that these issues can be managed in the same practical and systematic way as any other OSH issue.”

Each version of the e-guide contains:

  • Simple explanations of risks, their causes and consequences for workers and businesses.
  • Advice and instructions on how to spot problems early and take action.
  • Practical examples of prevention and risk management, particularly for small businesses.
  • Information on national resources.

“Created to improve understanding and raise awareness of stress and psychosocial risks at work throughout Europe, the e-guide also helps to overcome certain misconceptions that exist about stress, separating fact from myth,” the agency said. “It is particularly intended for those in small enterprises who need guidance or advice on the first steps to take to tackle stress and psychosocial risks in the workplace.”

Employers can view the free e-guide online or download it for offline use.