HSE publishes its blueprint for tackling workplace stress

Organisations encouraged to take part and offer feedback

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has outlined in greater detail how its
management standards for dealing with stress in the workplace will work.

A blueprint for the Management Standards for Stress was posted on the HSE’s
website at the start of June, a few weeks later than planned, setting out the
methodology and thinking behind the standards.

Organisations are being encouraged to have a look, with details of how to
take part on the website and any feedback set to be incorporated when the
standards are formally launched next year.

Some 20 public and private sector employers have agreed to pilot the
standards (see box below), which are based on seven causes of stress, as
outlined in the HSE’s Tackling Work-Related Stress.

As a benchmark, the standards estimate that about 20 per cent of employees
within an organisation are likely to be very or extremely stressed at any one

To meet the standards, at least 85 per cent of an organisation’s employees
will need to be satisfied with the demands put on them, the level of control
they have and the sort of support on offer.

When it comes to managing relationships, roles and change, the standard will
be achieved if at least 65 per cent of employees indicate they are satisfied.

Within each standard, the HSE has outlined a range of measures that
organisations need to achieve, for instance, ensuring there is adequate
communication and consultation. Firms are also expected to carry out an audit
to identify problems, consult with unions and managers and provide confidential
counselling, where appropriate.

Bill Callaghan, chairman of the Health and Safety Commission, said:
"There is a difference between the buzz people get from doing a
challenging job, and an unreasonable pressure that can harm health, lead to
absence and put additional strain on colleagues, who are trying to cope in an
even more pressured environment.

"So, in developing a new approach, it is important to get active
participation, agreement and feedback. That is why we have decided that
innovative firms seeking an answer can have a go with this scheme."


Key standards

That at least 85 per cent of

– indicate they are able to cope with the demands of their jobs

– have a say about the way they do their work

– receive adequate information and support from their
colleagues and superiors

That at least 65 per cent of employees:

– indicate they are not subjected to unacceptable behaviours
(for example, bullying) at work

– indicate they understand their role and responsibilities

– indicate the organisation engages them frequently when
undergoing an organisational change

In all of these, firms must also demonstrate that there are
systems in place locally to respond to any individual concerns.

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