Construction is one of five sectors that will be specifically targeted in a new campaign from the Health and Safety Executive aimed at helping businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress.
It says that while the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is yet to be fully understood, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in across the UK economy.
Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression. A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that two in five employee’s mental health had worsened during the pandemic.
In response HSE is launching its new campaign, ‘Working Minds’, at its Health and Work Conference, which examines issues relating to health at work. The campaign aims to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress and tackling issues routine.
The regulator has partnered with a number of organisations to highlight the triggers of stress, the legal duty of employers and how to manage the risks.
The network of Working Minds champions includes the charity Mates in Mind, who earlier this year shared the heart-breaking story of construction worker Chris, told by his family and friends.
While the five target sectors account for around six million workers, mainly in small businesses, HSE is capitalising on ‘Working Minds’ to call for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces to ensure psychological risks are treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury.
“In terms of the affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives.
“No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the Government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”
HSE is reminding business that no matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace, not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety. They should also promote good working practices.
It says this promotes an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.
Sarah added: “Our campaign is focused on giving employers a clear reminder of their duties while championing reducing work-related stress and promoting good mental health at work.”
Managing director at Mates in Mind Sarah Casemore said: “The mental health challenge, particularly related around workplace stress is really important to discuss.
“The impacts of work-related stress are significant and can affect anyone at any time, but they’re still not consistently approached and addressed in workplaces across construction.
“Many people are leaving their jobs across construction each year due to mental health reasons.
“We can only exceed in helping organisations better identify, understand and address the drivers of stresses at work by working together, creating greater consistency and clarity, so we’re very proud to be working alongside the HSE in this campaign.”
Dane Krambergar, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Services at Mind, another campaign partner, said: “We recently surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations. Two in five (41 per cent) employees told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.”
Picture courtesy of HSE via Twitter.