The latest HSE statistics reveal some interesting points that highlight the state of health and safety in the UK, between 2020 and 2021

2020/21 has firmly rooted health and safety in our day-to-day lives and our cultural consciousness. However, the latest statistics from the HSE prove we still have a long way to go. Simon Walter, Co-Director at Rhino Safety, shares his thoughts on what the focus should be in 2022.

 

  • Work-related ill-health cases increased from 1.6 million to 1.7 million
  • New cases of work-related ill health rose from 638,000 to 850,000, a 33% increase
  • The number of workers suffering from a new case of work-related stress, anxiety and depression rose by 30%, from 347,000 to 451,000
  • The major cause of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill-health is stress, depression and anxiety, which accounts for an astonishing 50% of cases
  • Musculoskeletal issues are next at 28%, while other types of illnesses account for 22%, Workers suffering from a new case of work-related musculoskeletal disorder rose by 6.5% from 152,000 to 162,000
  • Workers who sustained non-fatal injuries (self-reported) decreased by 36%. Non-fatal injuries reported by employers also fell by 22%
  • The major cause of non-fatal injuries across all industries is slips, trips and falls. In 2019/20 it accounted for 29% of incidents. In 2020/21 it rose to 33%
  • Fatal injuries at work rose from 111 in 2019/20 to 142 in 2020/21. The major cause of fatal injuries is falling from height, which is consistent with previous years
  • Over half of fatal injuries to workers in 2020/21 were in agriculture, forestry and fishing (34%) and construction sectors (39%)

Looking at these statistics, there’s a lot to reflect on. Among them are things we can do in 2022 to ensure that health and safety remain at the forefront of policy and strategy across a wide range of industries and sectors.

So – what are the key things we should focus on to move the dial on health and safety in 2022?

1. Keep health and safety in focus

2. Prioritise and incorporate mental health and wellbeing into health and safety practice/policies etc

3. Reduce the threat of musculoskeletal disorders across multiple industries

Read what the latest Public Health guidance means for your business

The guidance appears therefore to be quite confusing. On the one hand COVID safety measures are no longer required for the majority of businesses, but on the other the guidance to self-isolate has been significantly widened. This leaves employers in a real bind as to what to do and leaves open the ongoing significant interruption to business that periods of self-isolation create. Employers will need to give thought to what, if any, other protective measures (such as screens and sanitiser) they wish to retain should they wish to insist on those suffering from a respiratory illness coming to work.

What to do if a member of staff has symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19

If a member of staff is unwell with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, they should follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection such as COVID-19.

Employers, in accordance with their legal obligations, may wish to consider how best to support and enable their workforce to follow this guidance as far as possible.

Management of members of staff who are at risk of serious illness from COVID-19

Some workers are at a greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, for example people who have a weakened immune system.

There is specific guidance for people whose immune system means that they are at higher risk, because they have a reduced ability to fight infections, such as COVID-19. Employers may wish to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

It is unclear whether there will be any specific updates to the Living with COVID plan but pulling together the various strands we now know:

 

The guidance is to be updated monthly and we will have to see what impact the loss of free mass testing and the updated self-isolation requirements will have.

After Friday 1st April, people who have a positive Covid-19 test are being advised to “try to” stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious.

Children who are unwell and have a high temperature are being advised to stay home and avoid contact with other people where they can.

They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature and they are well enough to attend, the Government said.

Those who are positive, or have symptoms, and need to leave home will be urged to wear masks, avoid crowded places and stay away from people with weakened immune systems.

From 1 April 2022 onwards:

  • Tests:  Free PCR and lateral flow testing will be no longer available for most people. Free tests will be available for a small number of at-risk groups including the over-75s and over-12s with weakened immune systems. For everyone else COVID-19 tests will be charged for and sold through private market retailers and pharmacies. Free tests may be available for schools if they have COVID outbreaks.
  • Working Safely guidance: The existing guidance will be replaced with new public health guidance.
  • Health and safety risk assessments: employers will no longer have to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessments.
  • COVID passports or certification: These are no longer recommended for venues and events but remain necessary for international travel. The NHS COVID pass is no longer to be used as a vaccine passport within the UK.

Guidance for employers and the public is being changed, in particular, the requirement to consider COVID-19 in risk assessments and the existing ‘Working Safely’ guidance remains in place until 1 April when it will be replaced with new guidance.

The CIPD recommends considering three questions to help guide workplace safety:

  1. Is your workplace sufficiently safe and supportive?
  2. Are you being flexible in your approach?
  3. What is best for people’s wellbeing and performance?

With the removal of legal restrictions triggering a surge in Covid-19 infections, there is likely to be an increase in employees experiencing lingering symptoms. Organisations’ response should be two-fold, and they should consider how they support employees with long Covid.

Now self-isolation periods have ended we are likely to see employees continuing to work despite confirmed illness, which poses a risk of outbreaks.  For some people Covid-19 symptoms have been little more than a cold and many others have tested positive without any symptoms at all. However, thousands of others have experienced hospital admission, serious symptoms or even symptoms that have remained long after the infection has passed, sometimes known as ‘long Covid’.

So, what can employers do to lower the risk the virus poses to their staff as we move into this next phase of the pandemic?

Planning and management of Workplace Safety

Employers should take an individualised approach to consider the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the workforce, as well as following and monitoring ongoing government guidance.

Employers have a duty of care to ensure that the workplace is sufficiently safe to work in, following the latest government guidance. The key aspects that employers should be aware of are:

  • Testing – Encourage Testing
  • Positive Covid Test – People who have a positive Covid-19 test are being advised to “try to” stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious
  • Work from home – Ask your people to work from home (if their job allows this)  if they have tested positive, but have no symptoms
  • Vulnerable staff – Where possible, risk assess and advise reduced close contact with others in the workplace ie; hybrid working agreement, but predominantly working from home (if possible)
  • Testing Kits – Some employers are buying lateral flow tests to hand out to their staff to support them
  • Enhanced Sick Pay – If you would rather your people were open and honest and they didn’t attend the workplace with Covid symptoms, and put others at risk,  then you may want to look at offering enhanced contractual sick pay
  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – Implement an EAP to support your people
  • Risk AssessmentUntil 1 April 2022 employers must undertake COVID-specific risk assessments, from this date employers can choose whether to consider COVID 19 specifically,  or as part of their overall health and safety risk assessments
  • Priority Actions – Including protecting staff and customers, including steps and measures such as improved ventilation, reducing contact for workers, reducing risk for customers, visitors and contractors, cleaning the workplace, personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings, workforce management and tests and vaccinations
  • Ventilation – An ongoing emphasis on the importance of ventilation. Employers can refer to the advice on air conditioning and ventilation on the HSE website
  • Consultation – Consultation may help staff feel safer, taking into account their input on any health and safety measures put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Many factors must be considered, including risk assessments, the size and nature of the workplace, the number of vulnerable staff or those who live with vulnerable people, caring responsibilities, public transport dependency, as well as any local and wider outbreaks
  • Engage – It is important that businesses engage with their people to understand how they feel. There should be consultation with staff at a company level but it’s also important that line managers understand the specific concerns of their individual team members so they can best support their mental wellbeing and future ways of working. Employers need to stay flexible as guidance and attitudes evolve.

Company Sick Pay Eligibility & Testing 

Consider whether to adjust your company’s sick pay eligibility to cover self-isolation or sickness absence in full. Employers will also have to decide their policy on providing and funding testing given that free testing will end for most people from 1 April 2022.

Challenges

Many employers will want those testing positive for COVID-19 to continue stay at home as this protects vulnerable staff or clients. Asking staff to self-isolate if testing positive but without symptoms, or after close contact with someone testing positive, will become more difficult if employees are concerned about not being paid for periods of absence.

Unvaccinated staff

Earlier in the pandemic unvaccinated staff were more likely to have to self-isolate than fully vaccinated ones. This  led  some employers to previously reconsider their policy on full company sick pay for self-isolation. For example, some employers previously amended their policies to provide SSP only to unvaccinated workers who must self-isolate, unless they had mitigating circumstances, and to pay company sick pay to vaccinated staff. There are many options which employers have adopted including:

  • Fully vaccinated staff receiving company sick pay
  • Unvaccinated staff receiving full company sick pay owing to mitigating circumstances (for example pregnancy or other medical grounds)
  • Vaccinated and unvaccinated workers who test positive being paid full company sick pay
  • Unvaccinated staff without mitigating circumstances identified as close contacts of a positive case being paid only SSP.

While you’re no longer legally required to self-isolate if you have COVID-19, you should try to stay at home and away from others to avoid passing on the virus. The consequences of changing sick pay terms are complex and given the potential legal problems employers may decide not to differentiate between employees. Retaining full company sick pay comes at a cost but does ensure employees comply with any obligation to self-isolate thereby avoiding the risk of infecting others in the workplace. Denying company sick pay may encourage staff to get vaccinated, but on the other hand staff may avoid testing or self-isolation because of anxiety about time off work on reduced pay.

Employers who decide to treat unvaccinated staff differently should consider both the general risks of discrimination claims and should accommodate case by case exemptions based on individual circumstances and medical conditions.

Workplace Culture 

As well as putting in place practical support and adjustments for employees with long Covid, it is important employers strive to create psychologically safe workplaces where people feel comfortable opening up about their physical and mental health.

COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Communicating with your people

Whatever policies you adopt for your business, you should make sure that they are effectively communicated to staff. Many disputes and issues that have arisen during the pandemic have been because businesses were unsure of how to react or had not told staff what their approach would be. It’s always worth stating your general approach in some form of written communication, as well as regular virtual or face-to-face briefings.

Health & Safety 

It’s crucial to work in close collaboration with your health and safety and occupational health service providers/teams wherever possible. Regularly communicate to staff the practical measures you are taking to help reassure them that their health, wellbeing and safety is your top priority. Make sure staff and visitors are clear about the rules and procedures they should follow both in the workplace and at home, especially if they begin to feel unwell.

Protection & Hygiene 

To maintain protection and hygiene measures and minimise the spread of infection, remind staff about regular and effective handwashing, and provide hand sanitisers. You should review your cleaning arrangements, for example, ensuring all phones/keyboards and so on are wiped daily with anti-viral cleaner. You can refer to the government guidance for more information.

PPE 

Depending on your working environment, you may need to consider providing additional PPE, including masks or anti-viral hand gel. If you want people to wear gloves or face coverings, then you will also need to think about reminding staff on their correct usage – since these can be ineffective if used inappropriately.

Protected Characteristics 

Employers should take extra care of those with protected characteristics. For example, discuss with disabled workers any reasonable adjustments that can be made to the workplace or working arrangements so they can work safely.

Company Policies 

Employers need to think about their own organisational policies around whether some or all staff are required to be vaccinated and/or tested as part of their job. Employers should continue to monitor the latest government guidance and be prepared to act upon any changes. From 1 April onwards free lateral flow testing will be charged for and sold through private market retailers and pharmacies. Free tests will be available for a small number of at-risk groups likely to include those aged over 80 and social care staff.

Sector Specific Guidance 

Sector-specific workplace guidance for various sectors of the economy (as referred to above) must be followed. The Health and Safety Executive has also published advice and guidance relating to COVID-19 which may be useful when considering health and safety measures.

Long Covid & Disability ?

It is very common for individuals with long covid symptoms to suffer  both mentally and physically.  Involve an Occuapational Health Advisor where required, who can recommend reasonable adjustments to support your people. Staff with long covid should be treated as having a disability.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s head of employment policy, Rebecca Thomas, said all organisations should presume that an individual’s long Covid symptoms meet the threshold required to be classified as a disability in order to avoid falling foul of equality law.  Although some campaign groups and bodies including the TUC are pressing the government to recognise long Covid as a disability worthy of protection under the Equality Act 2010, Thomas indicated that the condition has not been around for long enough to fully determine whether it can be classified as a long-term impairment.  She added that there was a reluctance from government to specify long Covid as a disability because it is a “fluctuating” condition, where symptoms can come and go.

What can an employer do to support individuals with long covid ?

  • Occupational Health Assessment – Seek professional, medical advice from occupational health
  • GP – Or write to the employee’s GP for further information about their condition
  • Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) – Implement an EAP to support your people.

Symptoms of long COVID

There are lots of symptoms you can have after a COVID-19 infection.

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Non-urgent advice:

Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID) – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Latest content

From 24 March the special COVID-19 sick pay provisions are removed and rules revert to pre-pandemic rules. People with COVID-19 will still be eligible for SSP subject to the normal provisions, but the day-one eligibility for sick pay for those who test positive will no longer apply. This means that those who are unwell with COVID-19 will only be paid SSP from the fourth day of their absence. More information is available in the self-isolation FAQs.

24 March is also the last day employers will be able to make claims through the Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Please do get in touch for further advice and guidance and/or discuss your Company policies and procedures. 

 

Isolation Period Cut from 10 Days to 7 Days 

Fully vaccinated Covid sufferers can now cut their 10-day isolation period to seven days, it has been announced.

Under new rules, people in England can take two lateral flow tests 24 hours apart on day six and seven of their quarantine.

Self-isolation for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 to 7 days following negative LFD tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Temporary change to Fit-notes

For Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), where employees go off sick on or after 10 December 2021, employers can only ask employees for proof of sickness (such as a fit note) after 28 days of sickness (including non-working days). Proof of sickness cannot be requested earlier than 28 days.
Fit notes do not have to be provided for DWP benefit claims until 27 January. This will not affect claims to benefit.
These changes are to give GP’s more time to work on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) booster programme.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

This scheme will be reintroduced from mid-January 2022. Further guidance will be available as soon as possible.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Why not use Our powerful, Affordable & User Friendly HR Software?

The implementation of a GDPR compliant HR Software Information System (HRIS) such as Craven HR, is a key driver in moving a business forward, in terms of data management, HR streamlined processes and improved employee engagement.

KPI’s

Without a HRIS, it is not currently possible to capture accurate HR performance metrics that are strategically aligned with a business, many businesses simply do not have the accurate data. Without the correct data you cannot measure key information and provide Company KPI’s, which are a fundamental and positive business tool.

The purpose of HR KPI’s is to optimise recruitment and selection processes, workplace and people management/employee engagement initiatives etc. By constantly measuring and tracking these metrics, you can gauge whether your current HR practices are proactively making a positive impact, the stability of your business and staff; and ultimately the business’s profitability.  

Restricting Data Access 

Restricting data access strictly to what’s required for each job role is essential to prevent a sensitive and serious data breach. By giving staff access to personal and or sensitive data who don’t legitimately need it for the performance of their duties, you could create a situation that could put highly confidential information at risk. 

Risk Management  & GDPR

To manage this risk, follow best practice and to ensure GDPR compliance, please find the following advice and guidance; 

  • Implement an appropriate and affordable HRIS –  Such as Craven HR Software;
  • Avoid multiple different places to store personal data – Recording of personal and/or sensitive employee data on spreadsheets is advised against due to high risk of data breaches – a HRIS would solve this;
  • Restrict staff access to personal and or sensitive data – Define who definitely needs access to the employee personal and or sensitive employee information for their job role; and what is/are the legitimate and valid reason/s?- A HRIS has different security settings for staff;
  • Appropriate security should be in place, to avoid unauthorised sharing of information – A HRIS would solve this;
  • Ensure that all staff who access confidential data know how to safeguard it and why, including appropriate training – Training should be arranged for key staff;
  • Privacy Statement – Implement and communicate.

Why should we implement a HRIS?

Benefits for Line Managers;

  • Better use of your time – Streamlines and automates those repetitive and time-consuming people management tasks; 
  • Stay Secure, GDPR Compliant – Less risk, all your employees’ data safely in one place ;
  • Welcome new employees - Create onboarding new starter checklists, send out offer letters and contracts​; 
  • Engage your staff – Self Service – Give your people a system with their data, they can access anytime, anywhere ; 
  • Cloud Ecosystem – HR software that links to Xero and Quickbooks; 
  • Easy to use & mobile friendly – Access information quickly, anytime, from anywhere; 
  • Make payroll painless – Run your entire payroll in just 5 simple steps; 
  • Competitive edge – Think about it… You want to attract and retain top talent, but your tech is way behind your competitors​. 

Empowerment increases autonomy for Line Managers ie;  

  • Manage timesheets/schedules/authorise overtime;
  • Request salary/job changes; 
  • Authorise/cancel Annual Leave (and other leave); 
  • Add employee sickness absence;
  • Complete a RTWI (Return to Work Interview); 
  • Complete Performance Management ie; One to One Meetings, Probationary Reviews and Appraisals;
  • Reduction in sickness absence – It is a deterrent when employees can visibly see how much sickness absence/triggers they have.

Benefits for employees;

  • Communication tool – Important Company notices/announcements – improves employee engagement’;
  •  Self Service – visible employee information – employees feel more in control;
  •  Access and update their own personal information – reduction in errors;
  •  Access timesheet/weekly schedule – improves engagement;
  •  Annual leave/other leave is important, employees can view their leave; balance and apply for leave online – speedier process, improves employee engagement;
  •  Complete self-certification – speedier process, improves employee engagement;
  •  Access Company Policies and Procedures – improves communication;
  •  Identify and contact other staff – improves communication.

Interested ? We hope so, please get in touch to discuss how we can help you work Smarter not Harder with Craven HR Software including Payroll (or not).

Craven HR Software – Online HR System – Craven HR Services (cravensafetyservices.co.uk)

 

 

But aren’t all Outsourced HR Services all the Same? How are we at Craven HR Services any different?

Yes we offer all the usual ‘HR & People Management’ Services, but what Value Added HR do we offer?

Ok I will try & explain ‘in a nutshell’. The following are the elements of HR & People Management, which we believe makes us extra special & positively sets us apart from others similar providers;

  • Growth & Support – We do genuinely love working with small businesses, start up’s & entrepreneurs, to help support you to grow, or maintain your business & people & to support you to be an ‘Employer of Choice’ – we celebrate with you the ‘big and the small wins’ in Partnership
  • Authentic – We are real people who have have tons of HR/People Management experience working with real people in various sectors & industries
  • HR Presence – You tell us what you want, we can be a transparent HR ‘presence’ or we can work ‘behind the scenes
  • Relationships – We really do have a sense of humour & we are great communicators, which helps us build positive relationships with our clients very quickly
  • HR Presence – You tell us what you want, we can be a transparent HR ‘presence’ or we can work ‘behind the scenes’
  • Positive Leadership – Let’s be honest here, how many poor/unfair ‘boss’s’ have you worked for or do you know? We can help coach you to be a real Leader, we can help enhance your ‘soft skills’ & ‘confidence’ which are crucial in positive leadership, ultimately leadership is ‘vision, ”building your people’, ‘inspire & influence others’ & truly ‘connecting with your team’
  • Business Plans & Strategy – We are a small business, why do we need business plans & strategy? Treat your small business as a huge corporate one, in terms of the foundations, rid yourselves of the ‘small business’ mindset (reactive) & focus on a more ‘proactive’ mindset that will enable natural business growth. Strategy is at the core & heart of every successful business, we can also help you implement your Company ‘Mission’, ‘Vision’, & Values
  • Culture – We thrive on helping you to build a positive & healthy culture; by implementing and slotting together, the various components like a jigsaw
  • Coaching – We all have that one Positive Leader who we remember more than anyone else, there will be different reasons why we credit this person, they may have helped you breakthrough or gave you that amazing opportunity, ultimately they ‘believed in you’ our point is, we can help you be that Leader, we can also love coaching those employees with ‘high potential’ & seeing them soar
  • Continuous Improvement – Is a permanent state of change, & we love it, striving to get better & better, always changing, always innovating, never boring or dull
  • Avoid Formal Processes – We like to avoid long formal process driven processes (where possible) & instead positively coach you & your managers to have the conversations that need to be held, to help your people to increase self awareness and responsibility for enhanced performance & productivity
  • Branding & Marketing & Communications – We understand your time restraints & pressures, but we love helping businesses with their branding & marketing, we are also told we are pretty good at it, we also love being the positive communicator for the business
  • Health & Wellbeing –  Healthy, happy staff are more productive, and take less time off work due to sickness. We can help to develop your wellbeing strategies
  • Team Building – We can help you build high performing teams, we will support you to implement; Accountability, SMART Goals, Performance Management, Well defined Roles, Team and Company Values, Regular f2f & team meetings
  • Technology – We embrace it, it helps us to become more strategic & bridges the communication gap, we can create accurate analytics that drive enhanced performance management
  • Training – We have an array of training experience – including Leadership, HR & People Strategy, Business Planning, Employee Wellbeing, Absence Management, Conflict Management, Data Protection/GDPR, Leading People & Great Teams, Team Values, Managing Investigations, Performance Management, Disciplinary & Grievance, Goal Setting, Branding & Marketing
  • Get to know you – We get to know you & your business inside & out including your ‘quirks’ – we all have them.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place on 10-16 May 2021 and this year’s theme is nature.

What is Mental Health Awareness Week and why does it matter?

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health. The Mental Health Foundation started the event 21 years ago. Each year the Foundation continues to set the theme, organise and host the Week. The event has grown to become one of the biggest awareness weeks across the UK and globally.

Mental Health Awareness Week is open to everyone. It is all about starting conversations about mental health and the things in our daily lives that can affect it. This year we want as many people as possible – individuals, communities and governments – to think about connecting with nature and how nature can improve our mental health.

However, the Week is also a chance to talk about any aspect of mental health that people want to – regardless of the theme.

What do you actually want people to do during the Week?

The Week is an opportunity for people to talk about all aspects of mental health, with a focus on providing help and advice.

This year we want people to notice nature and try to make a habit of connecting to the nature every day. Stop to listen to the birdsong, smell the freshly cut grass, take care of a house plant, notice any trees, flowers or animals nearby. Take a moment to appreciate these connections.

We also want people to share images/videos/or just sound recordings of the nature on your doorstep (and how this made you feel) on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Why was Nature chosen as the theme for the Week?

The theme was chosen because being in nature is known to be an effective way of tackling mental health problems and of protecting our wellbeing.

This seemed particularly important this year – in the year of a pandemic. Our own research has shown that being in nature has been one of the most popular ways the public have tried to sustain good mental health at a challenging time.

Our hope is that by growing awareness of the importance of nature to good mental health – we can also work to ensure that everyone can share in it.

Nature is something that is all around us. It can be really helpful in supporting good mental health. Our ambition is to try to make that connection clearer for both individuals and policy makers.

How do you define Nature?

By “nature” we mean any environment in which we can use our senses to experience the natural world. This could include the countryside, a park or garden, coast, lakes and rivers, wilderness, plants or wildlife closer to home. It could also include nature that you can see or interact with in or from your home.

Aren’t there much more important mental health priorities than nature at the moment?

We are not saying that nature is the only priority that is important. And nature is not going to solve all mental health issues. But connecting with nature can play an important part in improving people’s mental health and make us feel better about ourselves.

During lockdown, nature has played a vital part in supporting mental health. According to our own research, last summer half of people in the UK said that being in nature was a favoured way to cope with the stress of the pandemic.

What about people who can’t access nature?

This will be a key part of the Week. Many people find it hard to access nature because of where they live or because they have no outside space. We will use the Week to launch new policy requests to enable greater access for people to nature. This can include making parks feel safer to use or planting more trees in our streets or asking developers to include plants and green spaces in their designs.

Wellbeing Strategy

“Starting a conversation about mental health doesn’t have to be difficult.” 

For any business, it is important to encourage employees to look after themselves and each other. Healthy, happy staff are more productive, and take less time off work due to sickness. We can help to develop your Wellbeing Strategy including: 

  • Developing a programme of initiatives to promote mental and physical wellbeing
  • Educating employees and managers on topics such as emotional intelligence, resilience and stress management
  • providing pragmatic advice on health and wellbeing issues which impact on the workplace
  • reviewing your working practices to create a supportive culture.

Get in touch with us now to see how we can help you develop your Wellbeing Strategy. 

A stress risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what in a workplace could cause staff to suffer from work-related stress. This is so that you can weigh up whether you have done enough, or should do more to prevent harm.

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 employers have a general duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health of their employees at work. This includes taking steps to make sure they do not suffer stress-related illness as a result of their work.

Employers also have a specific duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  They must undertake risk assessments that seek to identify, and eliminate or reduce, risks to their employees’ health, safety and welfare. Stress is one of the risks to health, safety and welfare that must be assessed.

Risk assessments must be reviewed periodically.  This should be whenever there is a change to any aspect of the work activity which could significantly affect the health, safety, or wellbeing of employees.  They should also be reviewed under any other circumstances where the existing risk assessment is thought to be no longer valid. The regular period of review should be decided locally.  This will depend on the level of risk and how susceptible to change the activity is.  This includes a stress risk assessment.

Hazard Identification – Factors to be considered

When considering the likelihood that a work-activity could result in employees becoming stressed, it is necessary to first identify the potential hazards. The section below includes the factors identified by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) as being most significant contributors to workplace stress.  Also a list of eight factors – external factors that can impact on individual ability to cope with work pressures

Factor Considerations

1. Demands – High volume of work, competing priorities, unrealistic deadlines, intense periods of activity, requirement for very fast work.  Also expectation of very long hours, high pressured environment.

2. Control Level over pattern of work and breaks, inability to decide on work speed, priorities, access to flexible working.

3. Role Clarity – understanding of role itself; how to carry it out; how it relates to immediate team and the wider organisation’s strategic plans.

4. Relationships – Inter-relationships with work colleagues, staff, and manager(s); bullying; harassment; conflict; unkind behaviour.

5. Support in dealing with work difficulties, accessibility, constructive feedback, praise for good work, encouragement.

6. Support from Colleagues – Support/assistance in dealing with work difficulties, respect.

7. Change Communication, consultation, and management of change.

8. External Factors – Mental health, other serious ill health, bereavement, dependant illness.

Required Actions and Prioritisation

Ideally, when considering risk assessment, the goal should be to remove the hazard. In relation to work-related stress, this may only be possible in a limited number of situations.  The standard adopted in law when considering the cost, both financial and operational, of implementing a control measure is reasonable practicability. The next best measure is either to reduce the hazard, or the likelihood of it causing harm, through various control mechanisms.

When determining the specific required actions, consider the gaps you found when looking at existing control measures.  Also consider whether equivalent measures could be implemented in the relevant work area.

Always consult with the affected staff for their contribution to ideas that might help resolve the difficulties. Consequently, this can either remove the hazard or reduce the level of risk.

It is important to appreciate that whilst some control measures help to reduce or prevent stress, others serve only to support employees who are already experiencing stress. Whilst, in time, these support mechanisms may assist those employees in recovering from this episode of stress, and even avoiding future episodes, the employee has already experienced harm. This in no way invalidates such measures which are widely recognised as not only valuable but also an expected facility for staff of responsible employers. However, provision of support services is generally perceived by the regulatory bodies as the minimum standard an employer can adopt to manage workplace stress.

We can help you with risk assessing your workplace, just get in touch.

Do you have people working from home temporarily as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak?

As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.

HSE website has advice on how you can minimise the risks to their health, which includes information on the following topics:

  • Lone working
  • Working with display screen equipment (DSE)
  • Stress and mental health