Workplace stress is back on the agenda for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), as the regulator gives renewed focus to the condition.
Speaking at its first Stress Summit held at Westminster’s QEII Centre, the safety body says it is “back in the game” and will be issuing new guidance to employers to highlight their legal obligations.
Penny Mordaunt, minister for disabled people, health and work, said: “Today’s summit is part of wider work that the HSE and the government are undertaking to tackle mental health issues at work, by raising the profile and awareness of work-related stress as a key health issue.
“Evidence shows that we need to start with the fundamentals – raising that awareness among employers, using our supply chains to do that, and reinforcing that legal requirement for an organisation to address stress in its risk assessment.”
Health and safety at work strategy
Around 45% of sick days are stress-related, according to the HSE’s 2015/16 statistics drawn from the Labour Force Survey.
A new health and work strategy sets out plans to tackle stress and musculoskeletal disorders, which together account for 80% of working hours lost through ill health.
Hugh Robertson, TUC’s senior policy officer on health and safety, told the summit that the TUC’s survey of safety reps had identified stress as the risk that caused most concern, but that the HSE treats stress differently to other risks.
He said: “There has been very little enforcement action around the issue of stress.
“Stress is being treated, however, differently from other risks. We are enforcing around chemicals, we are enforcing around MSDs and so on. There is a requirement for employers to remove hazards caused by stress as far as is reasonably practicable.”
Source: Health and Safety at Work
Date Published: March 30, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown