Is Stress at work a Health and Safety Issue?

The short answer to this is yes.

The Health and Safety Executive states that “employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it” and proposes management standards to adhere to.

Therefore, stress should be managed in the same way as any other potential risk within your business; identified, assessed and minimised.

There is a clear link between work-related stress and mental ill-health and in 2017 the government commissioned the Stevenson / Farmer review of mental health and employers “Thriving at work”. A report, which clearly outlines the cost to both individuals and organisations of mental health issues and proposes “mental health core conditions” achievable by all organisations.

The report suggests 300,000 people a year with a long term mental health problem lose their jobs, a much higher rate than those with physical health conditions, and that around 15% of working people have symptoms of existing mental health issues. With an annual cost of between £33 billion and £42 billion to employers, including sickness, staff turnover and people being ill in work.

The core conditions suggested by the report are:

• Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan;

• Develop mental health awareness among employees;

• Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;

• Provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development;

• Promote effective people management through line managers and supervisors;

• Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

With a duty of care to your employees and such seemingly realistic and achievable conditions for organisations to implement, is your organisation really doing all it could for you and your fellow employees to reduce stress and protect your mental health and wellbeing?

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