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Equipping business to prevent stress

HSE InfoLine : 25 May, 2004  (Company News)
Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, today launched an innovative three month consultation campaign asking managers and employers for their views on proposals to reduce work-related stress. A video explanation of the proposals is available via HSE's website and feedback can be delivered online.
The proposals are based around a set of Management Standards that will enable employers to gauge stress levels, identify causes and work with employees to resolve any difficulties. The Standards are clear and practical statements of good management practice and are supported by a body of research and by an ongoing dialogue with a range of businesses, professional bodies and unions.

The Management Standards are not new regulations: they are a non-legislative yardstick to help organisations meet their existing duty of care and their duty to assess the risks to work-related stress. The Standards highlight the components of good organisation, job design and management that keep stress levels in check and enhance productivity.

Work-related stress has overtaken musculo-skeletal disorders as the biggest cause of working days lost through injury or ill-health. It accounts for over 13 million days lost in UK industry a year, and costs society as a whole about 3.7 billion a year. In 2001/2, over half a million individuals in Britain experienced stress at levels that made them ill, as reported by the most recent Labour Force Survey.

Bill Callaghan, said:
'The HSC has recognised the need for action and designated stress as one of our priorities. We're not about eliminating all stress or pressure in the workplace. Rather we want to help employers recognise and manage the risks sensibly. The good news is that the core of any solution lies in good management, and in employers working together with staff and their representatives to develop solutions that work in practice.'

Head of HSE's Better Working Environment Division, Elizabeth Gyngell said:

'Work-related stress is not the reasonable pressure which is part and parcel of all work and which helps to keep us motivated. It is the kind of excessive pressure that undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill.

We are working hard to help tackle issue through good job design and people management. HSE cannot do this alone. We need employers, employees, and their representatives to visit our website and participate in this consultation.
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