Plan to fight stress in workplace

15-12-2004

A new strategy to help combat illness caused by work-related stress has been launched to help Scottish workers.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has put together guidelines to help businesses manage stress effectively.

At the last count nearly 40,000 Scots said they were affected by stress in the workplace.

HSE Scotland said the new approach aims to provide practical support to ensure healthy working lives for employers and employees.

The project received input from businesses, professional bodies and unions and aims to help managers to notice improvements in the way they manage stress levels.

HSE Scotland director Stewart Campbell said: "Pressure is part and parcel of life - both in and out of work - and helps to keep us motivated.

"But excessive pressure can lead to stress which can make people ill, undermine their performance at work, and is costly to employers if people are off sick."

The new standards focus on six key areas of work - demands, control, support, relationships, roles, and changes.

Although they are not regulations, the HSE hopes they will add to the existing duty of care placed on employers to manage the risk of stress.

STUC's health and safety officer Ian Tasker said: "We are keen to work with HSE to ensure employers implement these in workplaces.

New standards

"In the absence of specific legislation, effective implementation will be vital in order to combat an issue that is of growing concern to health and safety representatives in Scotland."

The new standards have been piloted by 20 organisations in the UK, including East Ayrshire Council.

Liz Burley, the council's corporate health and safety adviser, said: "Instead of measuring absenteeism we want to identify people before they are ill - the standards have helped us do this.

"The process isn't difficult and neither is implementing an action plan when you know what the factors causing the stress are."

BBC News

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