The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the start of a publicity drive to raise employers' awareness of the need to tackle work-related stress.
The announcement coincided with this year's National Stress Awareness Day, which is being run by the International Stress Management Association (ISMA), in collaboration with partners the Mental Health Foundation, the National Heart Research Foundation, and sponsors Royal and SunAlliance.
At business seminars throughout the country ISMA and Royal SunAlliance distributed a pack, detailing how people can manage stress in their lives, including information on coping skills and how to seek help. HSE has contributed to this pack with practical information for employers about what they could and should be doing to reduce stress at work. This:
- provides information about what organisations can do to prevent organisational stress;
- describes some of the facts and fictions about work-related stress, its causes and consequences, drawing on the findings of recent research.
Work-related stress is a serious problem affecting about one in five workers: around 5 million people. The cost to Britain's economy is broadly estimated at approximately 6.7 million working days lost each year: between about £3.7 billion and £3.8 billion (1995/96 prices). Prolonged or intense stress can lead to mental and physical ill health, such as depression, back pain and heart disease.
Sandra Caldwell, Head of HSE's Health Directorate said, "The publicity drive that HSE is beginning today is part of a wider plan to tackle stress at work In June, the Health and Safety Commission announced a new strategy to tackle work-related stress, based on developing standards of good management practice, working to tackle stress in the round and this publicity push. We welcome the opportunity of working with partners to tackle work-related stress. We believe that it is only through everyone working together that we will see an eventual reduction in the toll of stress-related ill health. We are therefore delighted to join forces with ISMA and everyone else connected with National Stress Awareness Day; we all have different areas of expertise, but identical objectives: to prevent ill-health from work-related stress."
"It is vital that everyone works together to tackle the challenges that stress raises. It will have benefits for everyone, not just the obvious benefits for workers. Organisations that tackle work-related stress effectively will be rewarded by having happy, healthy, and productive employees ."
Professor Cary Cooper, President of ISMA added, " I welcome HSE's contribution to National Stress Awareness Day. I am hopeful that the day will raise awareness of the issue and encourage action. Employers need to acknowledge that work-related stress has the potential to destroy lives and wreck businesses. Preventing work-related stress is one of the best investments they'll ever make."
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