Occup Environ Med 55:73-83 doi:10.1136/oem.55.2.73

Dutch monitor on stress and physical load: risk factors, consequences, and preventive action.


OBJECTIVES: Due to recent changes in legislation on occupational health and safety, a national monitor on stress and physical load was developed in The Netherlands to monitor (a) risks and consequences of stress and physical load at work, (b) preventive actions in companies to reduce these risks, and (c) organisational and environmental variables that facilitate preventive actions. METHODS: Information was gathered from employers, employees, and employees' representatives. The monitor was used with a nationally representative sample of companies in industry, wholesale trade, and banking and finance, 782 companies in total. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: The information from the employees, aggregated at the company level, was not found to be correlated with that from the employer from the same companies. Although many employers do recognise risk factors for both physical load and stress as a problem they often seem to underestimate the problem when compared with employees or their representatives. This is particularly the case for psychosocial risk factors. Also, the perception of outcome measures, especially employers who consider emotional exhaustion to be work related, were fewer than the employees' representatives of the same organisation. Preventive measures on physical load are much more popular than measures against stress. It is the responsibility of the employer to take more preventive action of all kinds. They need to recognise risk factors as problems and health outcomes to be related to work. Employees of larger companies should participate with employers to consider effective measures, and more use should be made of support at branch level. For specific preventive measures, specific predictors emerged. Except for measures to prevent work stress, information from employees did not sufficiently contribute to the initiation of preventive measures in the workplace.