Reports 31 Oct 2013

A guide to identifying and preventing psychosocial risks at work in the railway sector

The European Social partners in the railway sector CER and ETF share the opinion that a healthy work environment taking both physical and mental aspects into account is important for ensuring good quality of work and thus high-quality services. Well-being at work is a condition for both productivity and service quality.

Having this in mind, awareness is raising also in our sector about the potential dangerous and damaging effects of unidentified and not tackled psychosocial risks (PSR) in the working environment. It can be damaging for the safety and health of the workers concerned, it can be damaging for a motivating and supportive work environment and it can produce high and often hidden costs for the companies. Psychosocial risks include work related stress, company internal harassment and violence as well as violence and aggressions against workers by third parties, customers and passengers.

For these reasons CER and ETF decided in 2012 to carry out a joint project with the title “PSR-RAIL – Identify and Prevent Psychosocial Risks within the Railway Sector“. Our approach followed the objective to find concrete solutions that are beneficial for both railway companies and railway workers. From a company perspective, reducing PSR means reducing the costs linked to psychosocial risks and increase productivity. For the workers, reducing psychosocial risks means improving the quality of working
life and helping to prevent serious health problems.

According to EU and national law, the obligation to protect the health and safety of employees while at work lies clearly with employers. But preventing PSR needs a broad approach. The European social partners share the opinion, that tackling psychosocial risks should not only be part of the company health and safety policy but has to be addressed in all relevant fields of company policy, such as work organisation, internal communication and work/life balance.

Our project produced a Guide that shall serve as an instrument for management, trade unions and workers’ representatives in the railway sector to increase the awareness and understanding of work-related psychosocial risks, to draw their attention to signs indicative of risk and it makes suggestions for developing policies. The added value of this guide is to concentrate on the railway sector and to translate general topics related to PSR to specific situations and some specific professions in our sector. Our Joint CER/ETF Recommendations directly address our affiliated companies and trade unions and constitute a commitment to tackle the problem
of psychosocial risks for the benefit of all.

The social partners have the ambition to see more strategies and actions initiated in their affiliated unions and companies with an aim to preventing and managing work-related psychosocial risks, with the firm belief that it is in the common interest.