Stress now top health and safety concern at work
A survey to coincide with World Mental Health Day suggests that 70% of workplaces now have a problem with stress.
Stress is now the main concern for health and safety officials in UK workplaces, according to a study by the TUC.
So this week I thought that I should look at what you, as an employer could be doing to tackle work-related stress
This week’s 2 recent HSE cases also look at accidents that could and should have been avoided.
- Mark Evans has been prosecuted after he installed a gas boiler and left it in a potentially dangerous state because he did not commission it.
- Mr Simpson’s right leg was broken and his right foot was badly crushed. Despite a number of operations to save his foot, most of it was amputated and he now has a prosthetic foot.
We hope you learn from the mistakes of others that are highlighted in our weekly newsletters and, as a result, do not have similar accidents at your workplace.
How to tackle work-related stress
Going to work is generally good for us, but only if our health, safety and welfare are protected. Preventing ill health because of work-related stress is part of creating a good working environment for your employees.
What is stress and why do we need to tackle it?
People get confused about the difference between pressure and stress. We all experience pressure regularly – it can motivate us to perform at our best. It is when we experience too much pressure and feel unable to cope that stress can result.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates the costs to society of work-related stress to be around £4 billion each year, while 13.5 million working days were lost to stress in 2007/08. By taking action to reduce the problem, you can help create a more productive, healthy workforce and save money. Many organisations have reported improvements in productivity, retention of staff and a reduction in sickness absence after tackling work-related stress.
As an employer, you are also required by law to assess the risk of stress-related ill health arising from work activities and take action to control that risk.
Try using the HSE’s Management Standards approach
The Management Standards approach requires managers, employees and their representatives to work together to improve certain areas of work, described in the Standards, which will have a positive effect on employee well-being.
Under each area there are ‘states to be achieved’, which organisations should work towards.
The approach is aimed at the organisation rather than individuals, so that a larger number of employees can benefit from any actions taken.
Before you start: Prepare the organisation
Before you introduce the Management Standards approach, remember to plan ahead and prepare the organisation.
Start by thinking about securing the commitment of senior managers, line managers and employees. It is also good practice to set up a project or steering group to oversee the work.
This group will typically include senior and line managers; health and safety managers; trade union health and safety representatives or employee representatives; human resources and occupational health representatives.
Step 1 Identify the risks
Understand the Management Standards
There are six areas of work that can have a negative impact on employee health if not properly managed. These are outlined in the Management Standards, along with descriptions of good practice.
The Management Standards approach and how it applies in your workplace should be explained so that everyone understands it. Some organisations have incorporated or made reference to the Standards in their stress policy documents. This can help explain the reasons for using the approach and can define the roles and responsibilities of those involved in making the policy work.
The six Management Standards cover: