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Helping business cut the cost of work-related stress

HSE InfoLine : 03 November, 2004  (Company News)
The Health and Safety Executive today launches a new approach to help employers work with their employees to manage the risks from work-related stress.
The Health and Safety Executive today launches a new approach to help employers work with their employees to manage the risks from work-related stress.

Jane Kennedy, Minister for Work, said:
'This is a very practical example of what can be done to demonstrate how easy it can be to reduce the causes of work related stress. The Management Standards for Work-related Stress provide clear advice for employers to follow.'

At over 13 million days a year, work-related stress is the biggest occupational cause of working days lost through injury or ill-health. With an average of 29 days lost per case, it costs society about 3.7 billion a year. In 2001/2, over half a million individuals in Britain experienced work-related stress at levels that made them ill.

With input from a range of businesses, professional bodies, unions, and other Government agencies such as ACAS, the HSE has developed an approach based on a continuous improvement model featuring a benchmarking tool to help managers gauge stress levels, compare themselves with other organisations, and work with employees to identify solutions.

The Management Standards are not new regulations. Along with the toolkit, the standards help large organisations meet their existing duty of care and their duty to assess the risk of work-related stress. The standards define the characteristics of an organisation where stress is managed effectively.

Janet Asherson of the CBI, said:
'This is an authoritative set of principles and a framework to help employers and employees tackle stress at work.'

Hugh Robertson, TUC, said: 'In the absence of legislation these standards are the most effective tool that employers can use to help end the epidemic of stress related illnesses. We hope employers will work with safety representatives and stewards to use the standards.'

Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, said:
'Pressure is part and parcel of all work and helps to keep us motivated. But excessive pressure can lead to stress which undermines performance, is costly to employers and can make people ill. The Standards highlight the components of good organisation, job design and management that keep stress levels in check and enhance productivity.'

Clive Sheil, Shell plc, said: 'The health and safety of our employees is a priority for Shell and we welcome the HSE Standards. Shell participated in the HSE pilot scheme, which we believe, helps raise awareness across various business sectors.'

Robert Pascall, West Dorset General Hospitals NHS Trust, said:
'The Management Standards have been designed by HSE to respond to the specific needs of organisations. Looking at the six areas of job design outlined in the Standards, my management team have focused our efforts on the key issues faced by our employees.'

Steve Sumner, Employers' Organisation for Local Government, said:
'Whatever you call it, the bottom line is, would you rather have people at home off sick, or do something about it?'
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