Systematic review: work-related stress and the HSE management standards

Occup Med (Lond). 2013 Oct;63(7):463-72. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqt078. Epub 2013 Jul 11.


Background: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has defined six management standards representing aspects of work that, if poorly managed, are associated with lower levels of employee health and productivity, and increased sickness absence. The HSE indicator tool aims to measure organizations' performance in managing the primary stressors identified by the HSE management standards.

Aims: The aims of the study are to explore how the HSE indicator tool has been implemented within organizations and to identify contexts in which the tool has been used, its psychometric properties and relationships with alternative measures of well-being and stress.

Methods: Studies that matched specific criteria were included in the review. Abstracts were considered by two researchers to ensure a reliable process. Full texts were obtained when abstracts met the inclusion criteria.

Results: Thirteen papers were included in the review. Using factor analysis and measures of reliability, the studies suggest that the HSE indicator tool is a psychometrically sound measure. The tool has been used to measure work-related stress across different occupational groups, with a clear relationship between the HSE tool and alternative measures of well-being. Limitations of the tool and recommendations for future research are discussed.

Conclusions: The HSE indicator tool is a psychometrically sound measure of organizational performance against the HSE management standards. As such it can provide a broad overview of sources of work-related stress within organizations. More research is required to explore the use of the tool in the design of interventions to reduce stress, and its use in different contexts and with different cultural and gender groups.

Keywords: HSE; indicator tool; management standards; systematic review; work-related stress..

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Occupational Diseases*
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Occupational Health / standards*
  • Psychometrics
  • Safety Management / standards*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • United Kingdom
  • Work*