Headlines: June 17th, 2003

Local authorities, central government departments and academic institutions have joined private companies in piloting a Health and Safety Executiveproject designed to tackle stress at work. The blueprint for the scheme,called Management Standards for Stress, is being placed on the HSE’s website to encourage all sizes and all types of companies to deal with the issue.More than one million days a year are lost due to stress at work and although guidance has been available for almost a decade, the Health and Safety Commission wanted an innovative approach which would provide the tools for bosses and workers to tackle the challenge in their own organisations. Any feedback they provide will be incorporated when the system is formally developed for launch next year.

The current pilot has been devised with the help of 24 organisations including Bristol, Sheffield and Winchester City Councils, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Work and Pensions and Sheffield Hallam University as well as companies like Lloyds TSB and Sainsbury.

Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, said there was considerable pressure in the modern workplace but there was a difference between the buzz people derived from doing a busy and challenging job and unreasonable pressure which could harm health, lead to absence and put additional strain on other colleagues. It was important, therefore to get active participation agreement and feedback from as many people as possible. For this reason it had been decided to give innovative firmsĀ  seeking an answer a chance to have a go with this new scheme. He saidĀ  handing them a tool to help develop good practice made sense.

Elizabeth Gyngell, Head of HSE’s Better Working Environment Division welcomed the fact that the public and private sectors were working to help develop standards and tackle challenges. The Standards are available on the Health and Safety Executive’s web site at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress