Organisational Risks

These are risks associated with so-called “business dynamics”, i.e., the various working, interpersonal and organisational relationships within a workplace. The organisation of work, for instance, is a fundamental aspect, especially in terms of the psychological and physical workload. Therefore, the related risk factors must be carefully assessed by the Employer and by the Company Occupational Physician.

Developing tools to ensure that workloads are divided more fairly or are more rewarding can be an excellent way of improving working conditions:

  • Clearly defined work processes that are known to all.
  • Participative decision-making and operational autonomy.
  • Assignment of tasks in relation to the individual’s capabilities.
  • Access to education, training or retraining.
  • Alternation between monotonous, repetitive tasks and ones that require concentration.
  • Avoiding constant interruptions to work.
  • Reducing environmental disturbance factors.
  • Clearly defined responsibilities.
  • Effective communication between colleagues, co-workers and superiors.
  • Management of unresolved conflicts.
  • Alternation and breaks between tasks involving direct contact with the public.

In recent years, “risk of work-related stress” has been added to this list of risk factors. This risk is considered to be one of the hardest to classify as it is not associated with any immediately recognisable damage. This category mainly comprises risks of a psycho-social nature which affect workers’ emotional health.

Stress is defined as a state, which is accompanied by malaise and physical, psychological or social dysfunctions and which results from individuals feeling unable to bridge a gap with the requirements or expectations placed on them. In general terms, it is important to underline that stress itself is not an illness, but rather a condition triggered in the human body by an external source or strain involving a series of adjustments which, when prolonged, can lead to ill-health.

Transferring the general concept to the workplace, Occupational Stress can be defined as the worker’s perception that the demands of the job, the organisation and the work environment exceed his or her capacity to fulfil them. At acceptable levels, stress can have positive effects on our performance, enabling us to respond more effectively and efficiently to external stimuli and cope properly with the demands placed on us; however, prolonged exposure to stressors can lead to a number of mental and physical health issues, and reduced efficiency at work (absenteeism, illness, requests for transfers, etc.).


It is important to highlight and distinguish between the concept of Occupational Stress and that of Workplace Mobbing, which refers to repeated efforts by one or more individuals to negatively target a co-worker and force him or her out of the workplace.


A further distinction should be made between the concepts of occupational stress and Burn-Out, with the latter defined as a syndrome that affects people in human service professions, resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been adequately managed. This phenomenon, first described in the 1970s, is the result of chronic stress and subjective reactions that only affects people in caring professions (doctors, nurses, lawyers, clergy, etc.). Burnout occurs when the individual identifies too closely with the job, taking on the other person’s problems as their own and no longer being able to distinguish between the other person’s life and their own.