There are so many rules and regulations surrounding Health and Safety at work, how do you proactively ensure your business is compliant at managing employee mental health and wellbeing?
As a result of everyone taking health and safety as seriously as we should, the number of injuries in the workplace has reduced significantly. But even though we’re all fully aware that mental health and work-related stress in particular has significantly increased in the last ten years, it’s our experience that many businesses are still failing to prepare for and address these issues head on.
Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. The main factors cited by employees as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety are: workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.
So what’s happening nationally?
The latest estimates from the HSE’s Labour Force Survey show:
• The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15 was 440,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers.
• The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.
• The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case.
• In 2014/15, stress accounted for 35% of all work-related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.
HR managers are at the front line dealing with cases of work-related stress, drafting the related policies and often liaising with managers, employees and occupational health.
It’s useful to know how to pro-actively manage work-related stress:
1. Human Resource staff members are ideally placed to act as Board level champions for mental health so seize the opportunity;
2. Cases of work-related stress can be prevented as well as managed and proactive case management can support an early and successful return to work;
3. Risk assessments will highlight where your existing policies and procedures might not be working as effectively as they could, and also where data collection systems might be improved;
4. Working actively in collaboration with occupational health, as well as health and safety, can have a particularly beneficial effect on outcomes;
5. Engage and communicate with staff about this issue and raise awareness;
6. Engage effectively with Trade Union representatives to ensure appropriate workforce involvement;
7. Support your line managers in managing the individuals experiencing stress and helping them return to work with appropriate support plans in place;
8. Provide appropriate training in the area of work-related stress, mental health and well-being;
9. Consider what data you have and what it tells you, absences rates per department, exit questionnaires etc;
10. Liaise with those who may have important data like Occupational Health and/or Employee Assistance Programmes.
For small business owners, Health and Safety at Work can be a huge responsibility but we’re here to help businesses with health and safety procedures including fire risks, emergency procedures, manual handling, computer users, lone workers, contractors, protective equipment and training……to name just a few. Just give us a call on 01924 827869 or speak to your HR Advisor.