HSE Publish New Work-Stress Investigation Criteria
Work stress is a major cause of sickness absence in the workplace and it affects individuals, family and colleagues. The HSE Workbook/Guidance was updated earlier this year and is aimed at helping organisations to meet their legal duty and holding them to account – in relation to assessing the risks to its workforce from work-related stress and to give advice and guidance on how to manage work related stress by removing and controlling those risks. Failure to do so can be a criminal offence.
For some months the TUC, CWU and other affiliated unions have been urging the HSE to amend its criteria for ‘potentially’ investigating collective/structural cases of work related stress in workplaces in order to hold organisations to account for failures to comply with the duty to manage work stress.
This has been subject to regular considerations and debate at the TUC Union Health and Safety Specialists Committee and meetings with the HSE.
I’m pleased to report that the investigation criteria has now been published and this follows the updated HSE guidance and step-by-step workbook on tackling work-related stress published in March.
In short, the HSE regards cases of work-related stress to be eligible for investigation if it is related to a structural/organisational/collective issue, with many people sharing the same experience AND all usual channels to remedy the situation have been exhausted, such that the employer has had the opportunity to respond but the causal factor of work-related stress persists, harm is being caused and there is not a more appropriate lead enforcement agency.
- HSE – Tackling Work-Related Stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards – a step-by-step workbook.
- HSE – Reporting a Work-Related Stress Concern.
- TUC guidance For Union Representatives on making complaints to the HSE or Local Authority enforcement agencies on workplace stress.
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer