First aid boss claims workplace stress forced him to leave HSE

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been strongly criticised after one of its senior employees claimed he was forced into early retirement by work-related stress.

Ian Kershaw, who left his position as head of the First Aid Approvals and Monitoring Section (FAAMS) on 31 January, signed off with a swipe at HSE management.

He sent an e-mail to colleagues saying the publicly funded agency had frozen him out of meetings. “I know that with the right backing I would – and still feel I could – have sorted out the first aid industry to the advantage of the HSE and training providers,” he wrote.

The HSE launched its stress management standards in a blaze of publicity in November 2004. They are designed to help employers measure staff stress levels, but some critics labelled them ‘nonsensical’.

One comment on a first aid industry online networking forum said of Kershaw’s departure: “I believe the HSE has a lot about [stress] on its website about employers’ responsibilities under health and safety. Hope the HSE gets done. Sue them, Ian.” Another said: “I hate to think what happens next. A sad day for the UK first aid world, I am sure everyone will agree.”

FAAMS licenses and regulates first aid training providers. Kershaw had run the service since 1997 and spent recent years trying to move the process outside the HSE.

He wanted to create a first aid industry body to perform these duties, and claimed he had received lots of industry backing to achieve this. However, he said that from the middle of 2004, he was “excluded from meetings” by the HSE.

The HSE claimed that Kershaw had worked in a “junior management position”.

A spokesman added: “His departure was not caused by HSE he retired of his own accord. Nor is there any evidence that he was deliberately excluded from meetings, or otherwise subjected to any unacceptable behaviour.”

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