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National Stress Awareness Day

The first Wednesday in November each year is National Stress Awareness Day 

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed – being under pressure is a normal part of life. But becoming overwhelmed by stress can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse. Employers must note that protecting the employee’s mental health as much as practicably possible falls within their duty of care in the same way that physical health does.

We often talk of an employer’s ‘duty of care’ to their employees. But just what does this duty consist of?

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn’t just be seen as a legal duty – there’s a clear business case, too. It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement.

For the first time, work-related stress anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in the U.K. In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/18 as a result of the condition, up from 12.5 million last year. This equates to 57.3 per cent of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This increase has been partially driven by a rise in the number of new or long-standing cases, with 595,000 workers reporting that they currently suffer from the condition up from 526,000 in 2016/17.

Recognising the signs of stress, anxiety or depression in the workplace is something employers must be proactive on. Employers are advised to educate line managers about the importance of knowing their staff collectively and individually so they can monitor any changes in their working patterns conduct or behaviours. Is someone taking more sick days that usual, for example, or avoiding completing certain tasks; or do they seem quieter and more introverted than usual? Identifying anything typically out of the norm and taking action early to speak with that individual will make stress, depression or anxiety far easier to understand and manage in the workplace from the outset.

Failing to identify or take action when employees are suffering from stress, anxiety and depression can leave employers open to discrimination claims. To avoid this, they should look to make reasonable working adjustments in instances where stress and depression are an issue, and certainly when formal diagnosis has been given. While it might depend on operational viability or affordability as to whether or not an adjustment is reasonable, it could simply mean removing an element of the job found to be too stressful for the employee or a change to their working times. Working collaboratively will help to limit the possibility of related grievances and make discriminatory claims less likely.

If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.

For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.

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The Importance of Health and Safety Training

All work-related activities will at some point expose employees to some form of hazard, these hazards could include but not limited to:

  • Loads which have to be manually handled
  • Working with hazardous substances
  • Working at height (this may even be ground level where the potential of falling in to something exists)
  • Fire safety

New statistics from the HSE show that 147 people were killed whilst at work in the UK in 2018/19. Working at Height still remains the biggest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK with 40 people in 2018/19.

Every employee and every self-employed person is entitled to work in a safe and healthy environment where the risks within that workplace have been assessed and are managed accordingly. The management of health & safety within the workplace lies directly with the employer.

Training can play a vital part in reducing the risk of a workplace accident. Providing effective health and safety training will help to ensure that the people who work for you know how to work safely and without causing risk to themselves or others. As defined Under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a duty to provide training for their employees to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, their health and safety at work”.

Who needs health and safety training?

You do! Whether you are an employer or self-employed, are you sure that you’re up to date with how to identify the hazards and control the risks from your work activities?

Do you know what you have to do about consulting with your employees on health and safety issues? If not, you would benefit from some health and safety training.

Your managers and supervisors do! If you employ managers or supervisors they need to know what you expect from them in terms of health and safety and how you expect them to deliver.

They may also require training in the specific hazards of your processes and how you expect the risks to be controlled.

Your employees do! Everyone who works for you including self-employed personnel need to know how to work safely. Like your supervisors, they need to know about your health and safety policy, your arrangements for implementing it, and the part they play. They also need to know how they can raise any health and safety concerns with you.

Contractors and self-employed people who may be working for you do! Remember, these people might not be familiar with your working environment and safety systems that you have put in place for regular employees.

You should:

  • Take into account the capabilities, training, knowledge and experience of workers; and
  • Ensure that the demands of the job do not exceed their ability to carry out their work without risk to themselves and others.

Some employees may have particular training needs, for example:

  • New recruits will require basic induction training into how to work safely, including arrangements for first aid, fire, accident reporting and evacuations etc.;
  • People changing jobs or taking on extra responsibilities need to know about any new health and safety implications relevant to the role;
  • Young employees are particularly vulnerable to accidents and you need to pay particular attention to their needs, therefor their training should be a priority. It is also important that new, inexperienced or young employees are adequately supervised at all times;

How can I do it?

Firstly, you should show your commitment so that the people being trained recognise that the training is important. Whether the training you require is specialist i.e. First Aid, Fire Warden/ Extinguisher etc. or online training i.e. fire awareness, manual handing, asbestos awareness etc. HR Services Scotland can assist with your training needs.

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