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Work-Related Stress And Covid 19 Pandemic Stress

Proposed Improvement Methodology SLC Assessment Commensurate With The Psychosocial Risk Deriving From The Pandemic

Research Article
Authors: Ruotolo Fabrizio,Fusco Antonio,Vanacore Giuseppe,Niola Giovanni


Ruotolo Fabrizio1, Fusco Antonio2, Vanacore Giuseppe3, Niola Giovanni4

1Tecnico della Prevenzione - ASL Napoli 1 Centro - Ispettore Vigilanza
2Capo Ufficio Sorveglianza Sanitaria e Gestione Documentale - Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
3Capo Ufficio Primo Ufficio Prevenzione e Protezione - Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
4Addetto al Servizio Prevenzione e Protezione - Primo Ufficio Prevenzione e Protezione - Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II


Pubblication Date: 2022-11
Printed on: Volume 4, Publications, Online Issue


Since the 1990s, the world of work in Italy has undergone a process of organizational and economic transformation. The changes, underestimating the impact on the well-being of workers, have generated significant discomfort, not exclusively of a material nature, for larger sectors of the working population. Consequently, we found ourselves directly facing the consequences of this discomfort characterized, on the one hand, by forms of work organization pathology and, on the other, by adverse effects on the psycho-physical health of individuals.

The current emergency situation caused by the Covid 19 pandemic represents a stressor both for the organization of work and for the psycho-physical health of individual workers. Pandemic stress is, in fact, a completely new condition, which is leading to an unconventional state of stress, consequent on the one hand to the strong concern of the contagion, on the other to the new working methods also determined by technological progress (eg work. remotely or home working, smart working, teleworking). The activity of the smartworker, in fact, is characterized by different and generally greater responsibilities since remote work or home working is frequently an activity with objectives, often in the absence of the support deriving from belonging to a work group, as is normally the case. occurs in face-to-face activities.

The proposed method of assessing the work-related stress risk, with particular attention to what can be related to the Covid 19 factor, will be even more relevant for the purposes of post-pandemic management, in consideration of the uncertainty that may concern the socio-economic implications in the near future. economic and health care.

Methodology And Materials

The processing of the work was conducted in accordance with Article 28 paragraph 1, Legislative Decree 9 April 2008 no. 81 which provides, in the global context of risk assessment, also that of work-related stress risk, according to the contents of the specific European Agreement of 8 October 2004. Specifically, the work has set out to proceed with a revision of the method prepared for the assessment and management of work-related stress risk, as indicated by the 2010 and 2017 Inail Guidelines.

The procedure for conducting the assessment and management of work-related stress risk is divided into the phases referred to below.

  • Communicative and informative actions: it consists in communicating the employer’s will to proceed with the evaluation, clarifying that the essential element for conducting the evaluation is the participation of all workers, or their representatives, and of the figures of the Company’s Prevention and Protection . Equally essential is identifying the work-related stress risk factors present in the work cycle, potentially capable of causing damage to biopsychic homeostasis.
  • Documentary and objective analysis of work organization: corresponds to the verification phase of all the documentation available in the company being evaluated and the actual situations (company organization chart, work environments, health data, human and instrumental resources management, legal data , Risk Assessment Document, periodic meeting reports).
  • Subjectivity analysis: this involves identifying the homogeneous groups, or workers, to whom the survey checklists are to be administered.
  • Risk assessment: operational phase in which the checklists are administered on which, once collected, the data is evaluated and any further investigations are carried out. From what emerged in this evaluation phase derives the need, or not, to prepare a plan of interventions and corrective actions, and / or any specific training program, and / or also the need to proceed to investigations on identifiable cases individuals and / or collectives through the collaborative support of specialist figures.
  • Monitoring and control: Provides for the indication of the timing of monitoring and control of interventions and corrective actions, as well as the indication of the timing of risk re-evaluation in the presence of organizational changes.

Operationally, the assessment of the work-related stress risk is divided into two phases, as shown below.

  • Phase 1: is conducted by the figures of the Company Prevention and Protection with the consultative participation of the RLS, and reaches the evaluation by administering to the identified homogeneous groups of check-lists built on the dimensions “Sentinel Events, Work Content and Work Context” , taking into consideration the Covid 19 factor. The checklists administered consist of a series of analysis indicators and for each of these three choice situations are identified (optimal, alert, alarm), each with a respective score. In addition, a specific column “NOTES” is included in the check-lists, in which the reasons and rationale for the chosen situation are reported.

Phase 1 is broken down into two sub-phases, listed below.

  • Phase 1a: In this phase, the preliminary assessment is carried out and the check-lists are administered to the homogeneous groups identified. If the overall result of the evaluation is estimated at medium-low, the results of each indicator evaluated are analyzed considering the organizational complexity, the company size and the homogeneous group, with indication of control and monitoring measures.
  • Phase 1b: If the result of the overall assessment and of the individual indicators is estimated to be medium-high, we proceed to the in-depth analysis by analyzing the reasons given for the chosen situations and the ordinary risk elements emerged in the activities (in presence and in home working and smartworking). From this stage, through the administration of specific checklists elaborated according to the emerged risks, collective and individual interviews and focus-groups, proposals for corrective and improvement measures are developed and, where possible, a training program that can have an effective impact on the prevention of any critical issues that have emerged. To conduct this phase, the evaluators can request the support of a special commission, made up of specialist figures (for example psychologists, psychotherapists) and can also decide on the transition to Phase 2.
  • Phase 2: this phase is the exclusive responsibility of the commission which carries out an assessment of individual and / or collective identified cases of high risk, with subsequent identification and implementation of targeted collective and individual psycho-social analysis interventions.

Each identified homogeneous group is given a series of Check-lists on the three assessment areas, consisting of event indicators as shown below:

  • Sentinel Events Area
    • Business Indicators Checklist
  • Job Content Area
    • Check-list of Work Environment Indicators and work equipmentChecklist Indicators Task planningCheck-list Indicators Workloads and work rates
    • Check-list of Working Time Indicators
  • Context Area of ​​Work
    • Check-list Indicators Function and Organizational Culture
    • Checklist Indicators Role within the organization
    • Career Evolution Indicators Checklist
    • Check-list of Decision-Making Autonomy Indicators – Work Control
    • Check-list Indicators Interpersonal relationships at work
    • Covid 19 Employment Indicators Checklist
    • Check-list of Home Work Interface Indicators – Work / Life balance

From the sum of the scores obtained in the three areas examined, the overall risk level is obtained, which is compared with the numerical and descriptive strings for interpreting the risk, as shown below.

  • LOW RISK 25%: The analysis of the indicators does not highlight any particular organizational conditions that can determine the presence of work-related stress, it is advisable to monitor the organization every two years (Phase 1 a).
  • MEDIUM RISK 50%: The analysis of the indicators highlights organizational conditions that can determine the presence of work-related stress. For each condition identified, targeted improvement actions must be adopted. It is advisable to implement a prevention policy and actively involve the competent doctor and the person in charge (Phase 1 b). Monitor the indicators every year.
  • HIGH RISK + 50%: The analysis of the indicators highlights organizational conditions that indicate the presence of work-related stress. An assessment of the workers’ perception of stress must be carried out by involving the competent doctor or other specialized figures (Phase 2). Monitoring of stress conditions and the effectiveness of improvement actions after 6 months.

In addition, the results of the checklists of the three assessment areas identify the level of risk in each area as well as that of each individual indicator, allowing to define, for the specific assessment area or for the specific indicator, a control plan and monitoring and specific corrective and / or improvement actions.

Results And Discussions

With the pandemic, workers have had to redefine their lifestyles and adapt to work differently due to adapt to agile ways of working. This new modality configures a sort of hybrid work for which no guidelines have been defined regarding the aspects that characterize it. This lack is also found in the checklist provided by the INAIL guidelines proposed for the assessment of work-related stress risk.

In fact, the new working methods can highlight critical issues in the “Work Content” area, specifically, in the “Work Environment and Work Equipment” dimension since the workers of the same work context, even of the same group, no longer share the same same work environment. The “Working Hours” dimension could also be different from that of home working, being potentially influenced by the hyperconnection event. It is clear that the stress assessment must take into consideration the risks related to the issue of staying at work (and therefore connected and available) beyond one’s working hours, together with those of worker-technology interaction, a potential factor of techno-stress. ().

In the “Work Context” area, the “interpersonal relationships at work” dimension could be reviewed, which could be revised with the addition of indicators that investigate any changes in the quality of relationships with colleagues / superiors and / or if the the climate of trust previously created has had variations and / or, again, whether the new methods of communication dictated by the pandemic are effective. The “decision-making autonomy-control of work” dimension could be integrated with indicators that assess the quality of work independently and the perceived degree of isolation.

Even in the “Sentinel Events” area it is conceivable that the analysis of these objective data, whose evaluation is expected every three years, will be modified if the work activity is mainly done from home. In fact, it is conceivable that a series of indicators such as “sick leave”, “percentage of absences from work and holidays not taken”, “proceedings and disciplinary sanctions” should be eliminated.

For what has been highlighted, it is necessary to ask whether it is still conceivable to use a single checklist, as provided by the INAIL guidelines, for all types of work and whether the focus should be organized only on homogeneous groups and not on individual workers. In light of this, the assessment methodology proposed through this work seeks to help Employers to be able to carry out an assessment of the work-related stress risk that takes into account the changes deriving from the pandemic, on the one hand to adapt it to the type of work activity, on the other hand to refine the analytical interventions on homogeneous processing groups, up to the single worker in Phase 1b.


  1. European agreement on stress at work of 8 October 2004. (Agreement signed by CES – European trade union; UNICE – “European confindustria”; UEAPME – “European association of crafts and SMEs; CEEP -” European association of publicly owned and general economic).
  2. Interconfederal agreement for the transposition of the European framework agreement on work-related stress concluded on 8 October 2004. 9 June 2008 ? section = activities
  3. Approval of the information necessary for assessing the risk of work-related stress referred to in Article 28, paragraph 1 bis, of Legislative Decree 81 of 9 April 2008, and subsequent amendments. Circ. November 18, 2010 – Ministry of Labor and Social Policies – Directorate General for the Protection of Working Conditions Ministry of Labor – Circular 18/11/2010. Approval of the information necessary for assessing the risk of work-related stress referred to in Article 28, paragraph 1-bis of Legislative Decree 81/08 and subsequent amendments
  4. Inail 2011. Assessment and management of work-related stress risk <https: // – vulnerable-workers / work-related-stress-risk.html>
  5. Inail 2017. The methodology for the assessment and management of work-related stress risk – Manual for use by companies in implementation of Legislative Decree 81/08 and subsequent amendments. <>
  6. Shared protocol regulating measures to combat and contain the spread of the Covid 19 virus in the workplace of 14.03.2020, as integrated on 24.04.2020 and subsequent amendments.
  7. Di Tecco, C. INAIL (2020) – Considerations and research experience on the management of work-related stress risk in relation to the Covid 19 emergency.
  8. Shared protocol for updating the measures to combat and contain the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 virus in the workplace of 6.04.2021