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Government commitment for HSE's stress management standards

HSE InfoLine : 02 November, 2005  (Company News)
Lord Hunt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions Minister for Health and Safety today emphasised the strong benefits to individuals, organisations and society who effectively manage stress at work .
He gave full Government backing for the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards for work-related stress, at a conference arranged to mark National Stress Awareness Day.

Lord Hunt said: 'Over half a million people in the UK currently experience stress at a level they believe is making them ill, and this costs society over 3.7 billion per year. The Government is committed to tackling this issue. Not only are we faced with the challenge of tackling stress at work itself, but we face an extra difficulty in changing people's perceptions of what work-related stress is and how it can be managed. It is vital that we successfully work with employers in getting people back to work.

'That is why we launched the 'Strategy for the Health and Wellbeing of Working Age People'. The Government attaches great importance to the health and well being of working age people and this strategy is very much more significant than anything any previous government has committed to.

'People who are economically active are more likely to be healthy and people who are healthy are more likely to be economically active.'

The conference staged by HSE and the International Stress Management Association UK, is being held in London to discuss successful implementation of the Management Standards for work-related stress, and also sees the launch of new HSE guidance.
The new guidance, 'Making the Management Standards Work: How to apply the standards in your workplace' has been written for HSE by ISMA UK. It is based on research taken from organisations attending workshops on how to use the Management Standards, organised by ISMA UK in late 2004.

The keynote presentations from the conference will be broadcast as a live webcast, accessible via the HSE stress website, An on-demand highlights package of the whole conference, including sector-specific seminar sessions, will be also available via the HSE website starting in the week commencing Monday 7 November.

Dr Rosemary Anderson, Director of ISMA UK and co-author author of the new leaflet said: 'Our research has shown that many organisations are now working to implement the Management Standards approach, but are meeting obstacles that are mainly due to lack of planning, insufficient training, or lack of senior management support. But if these are addressed, implementation of the Management Standards can often be achieved efficiently and effectively, particularly where attention is paid to small changes. By sharing these findings in this leaflet, we hope that more and more managers will come to understand that good stress management is about an ongoing process of continuous improvement that contributes not only to the wellbeing of their staff, but benefits their organisation as a whole as well.'

Also speaking at the conference, Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission commented: 'The Commission seeks to encourage employers to work with their employees to address work-related stress at the organisational level using the Management Standards approach. This new HSE leaflet forms part of our ongoing work to show organisations how to use the Standards as the yardstick to gauge their performance in tackling a range of key stressors.

'We are currently working closely with 80 organisations, drawing on the expertise of ACAS trained advisers where necessary. Our objective is to help these organisations implement the Standards effectively. This work will be vital in enabling us to demonstrate that the Standards are easy to use and provide lasting benefit for a wide range of organisations and their employees.

Bill Callaghan continued, 'We will be championing this experience to encourage the majority of the remaining 1,800 employers in these sectors to take up the Management Standards by the end of next year.'

The majority of the several hundred delegates attending today's joint HSE/ISMA UK stress conference will be chief executives and senior HR managers drawn from organisations operating in the five sectors where the incidence of stress is greatest (health, education, central Government, local Government and financial services). They will be exploring what is and isn't working in implementing the Standards properly through sector-specific seminars.

In addition to the conference, other activities to mark National Stress Awareness Day include free local workshops being organised by ISMA UK in around 50 towns and cities throughout the UK during the first half of November. These aim to explain the Management Standards approach, and provide practical guidance on the steps that organisations of all types need to take in order to implement them successfully. Details of all the workshops and their locations are available via the ISMA website,
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