Mental health

Coaching as an effective tool for the prevention of occupational risks

by Sebastián Pérez, OHS

The picture of psychosocial risks in the workplace does not seem good at all in the international context.

For more than a decade, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (European Risk Observatory 2014) has been noting the progressive increase in psychosocial risks and their effects on health and so, for example, in its 2014 report “Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks” revealed that, according to the European Union Labour Force Survey, in the period 1999-2007 approximately one in four participants reported that their mental well-being had been affected by exposure to psychosocial risks.

Psychosocial risks

In this same survey, one in ten workers stated that stress, depression or anxiety was the most serious health problem. The report highlights that among employees who declare that they “always work under pressure“, the accident rate is five times higher than that of employees who have “never” been subjected to work with pressure.

Given the current pandemic situation, epidemiology will reveal what impact it has on the aggravation of psychosocial risks, which we could also describe as pandemic according to the data presented.

The report published by the Spanish National Institute for Health and Safety at Workplaces in 2010, “Psychosocial factors and risks, forms, consequences, measures and good practices“, already pointed out that stress is probably the first and most global psychosocial risk of all.

Specialized coaching

In this environment emerges the discipline of specialized coaching, which is being considered a powerful tool, and is applied to improve the results that a person obtains with conflict management, with stress, with health, with motivation, with leadership, etc., and, of course, with the prevention of occupational risks.

Workplace coaching can be defined as “[…] a systematic process focused on the solution and oriented to results, in which the coach facilitates the improvement of work performance, self-learning and personal growth of the coachee” (Grant, 2003).

How coaching works

The essence of the model is that our results are a consequence of our actions or behaviors and these, in turn, are the reflection of our thoughts. Coaching is built by talking, so it requires the closeness of the coach and the student. It could be defined as an artisanal process, personalized to each worker, never in series, and that takes place in a climate of absolute trust and confidentiality, creating a communication link that allows being receptive to new life experiences.

The coach poses questions, he does not position himself as an expert, since who really has the answers for a specific situation is the person who is living it, even if it is difficult to see them or put them into practice. With this methodology, the foundation of coaching regarding the prevention of stress is to increase the level of awareness of the trained person (the student) to, in this way, identify the nature and sources of stress, the effects it produces on their health and the necessary skills, both personal and professional, to reduce or eliminate it through an action plan.

Coaching fosters the creation of a more cordial and trusting environment within companies; employees become more autonomous, less dependent and more responsible; shared work objectives are achieved; workforce conflicts are reduced, employees are more motivated and enthusiastic, and they generate better relationships.

In short, it is about training ourselves to get rid of our limiting beliefs that prevent us from growing and achieving our personal and professional goals. In a context like the current one, so changing, dynamic and with a global pandemic as a backdrop, this type of tools is necessary to banish fatalistic perceptions and enhance optimistic ones.

Within our goal of protecting the health of our clients’ workers, we cannot forget that psychosocial is also health.

It is of vital importance to have tools for the management of these psychosocial risks, considering as more important the training of people so that their autonomy is improved and they are less dependent, improve decision-making and generate an environment of greater cordiality and tranquility, in which positivism is reflected,  confidence and well-being with yourself and your work environment.

Specific training on how to mediate in conflicts or group dynamics or positive psychology workshops for the management of well-being, resilience habits, resources for anxiety management or techniques to improve sleep or rest among others can provide us with tools that help us face these situations in a more emotionally intelligent way. 



Anthony M. Grant (2003). The impact of life coaching on goal attainment, metacognition and mental health. Social Behavior and Personality An International Journal, 31 (3), 253-263.

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2014). Calculating the cost of work-related stress and psychosocial risks.

Bernardo Moreno Jiménez & Carmen Baez Leon (2010). Factores y riesgos psicosociales, formas, consecuencias, medidas y buenas prácticas. Spanish National Institute for Health and Safety at Workplaces.