The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned that work-related stress and poor mental health risks becoming a health and safety crisis in Great Britain.
According to the regulator, mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in the UK. Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression.
In response, the HSE is launching its new campaign, ‘Working Minds’, at its Health and Work Conference, which examines issues relating to health at work.
‘Working Minds’ campaign aims to help small businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress and make tackling issues routine.
The HSE is calling 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.
Sarah Albon, chief executive of the HSE 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 businesses 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.
Sarah Albon 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.”
Employers and workers wanting to know more about the Working Minds campaign, including the legal obligations, advice, and tools available, should visit: workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/workingminds.