HSE unveils its pilot of draft stress management standards

More than 20 public and private sector employers will test the standards

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has begun a six-month trial of new
stress management standards, which are due to be introduced across the country
next year.

Elizabeth Gyngell, the HSE’s head of health strategy, unveiled the draft
standards in April, warning that firms that breached the rules could be
prosecuted under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Some 20 public and private sector employers have agreed to test the
standards, which are based on seven causes of stress as outlined in the HSE’s
guidance, Tackling Work-Related Stress. The seven ‘stressors’ covered are:
demands on staff, control, support, relationships, roles, change and culture.

Gyngell told Occupational Health’s sister title Personnel Today that to meet
the standards, employers will have to survey their staff to measure how they
feel they are affected by these seven areas, and then provide feedback.

Organisations will be expected to reach certain levels in each area; for
instance, ensuring that under ‘demands’, workloads are manageable and jobs
matched to ability. Firms must also have systems in place that allow them to
respond to staff who report feeling stressed.

Employers must talk in detail to staff about any issues highlighted by the
survey and agree action – including, if necessary, changing policies or ways of
management, and then reviewing the effectiveness of the action that is taken.

Once the pilot has finished, a discussion document will be published in
January, followed by a formal consultation period.

The standards are expected to become a key tool in the HSE’s campaign to
tackle work-related stress.

More than half a million people in the UK are estimated to suffer from
work-related stress, anxiety or depression, according to HSE figures, leading
to the loss of 13.5 million working days.

The draft standards were published on the HSE’s website in May, and
employers are being encouraged to provide feedback through the site.


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