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Health & Safety


challenge. However, when this pressure becomes too much and the demands become too great for a worker to cope with, it can result in stress-related problems. With proper monitoring, the allocation of enough resources and the provision of adequate support, workers should be in a position to cope with these challenges while remaining highly motivated and productive. It’s also worth remembering that stress can happen to anyone at any level in an organisation.


Legal duties Employers have a legal obligation to manage risks, including psychosocial ones, and, as we’ve seen, it makes good business sense to do so. So what stops enterprises tackling the problem? Many employers believe that stress and psychosocial risks are more difficult to manage than more visible or ‘traditional’ safety and health problems. Psychosocial risks are often misunderstood, and the sensitivity of the issues means that managers can sometimes shy away from dealing with them properly. Many managers feel that they do not have the expertise required to deal with such problems. Some workers, meanwhile, feel that asking for help with stress will be viewed as a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around mental ill-health, even though the reality is that up to one in six people will suffer from it during their working life. The Healthy Workplaces campaign was intended to


make it clear to Europe’s workforce that occupational stress is an organisational problem, not a personal failing. It set out to improve understanding of the issues and provide support and guidance for workers and employers, promoting the use of practical, user- friendly tools for psychosocial risk management. The campaign was all about getting across the message that stress can be successfully managed in a methodical and efficient way, just like any other occupational health issue. By identifying psychosocial hazards and being aware of the early warning signs of work-related stress, by planning and implementing preventive action and by monitoring and reviewing the situation, organisations can avoid or minimise problems. Small organisations can achieve great results with limited resources. The key is to involve everyone in creating a good


psychosocial work environment. Responsible leadership and a good example from management combined with worker participation so that employees are listened to and involved in decision making, are crucial for dealing with stress and psychosocial issues in the workplace. And just as working together is essential for psychosocial risk prevention, it was vital to the campaign too. EU- OSHA is a small organisation, who wouldn’t be able to reach workplaces of all sizes throughout Europe without the help of official campaign partners. These organisations – large businesses and associations


from the public and private sector, including some of Europe’s best known companies – helped to raise awareness of psychosocial risks and increase the visibility of the campaign. They led by example, encouraging other organisations to


manage stress. In turn, they gained opportunities to take part in learning and networking activities, received publicity and increased their reputation for social responsibility. More than 100 partners signed up for 2014-2015 campaign. The campaign was coordinated at a national level by a


network of national focal points, and was promoted by 34 media partners from 15 countries, including Safety Management, the magazine of the British Safety Council. Around 11,000 organisations participated in the campaign


Information and guidance A very high proportion – 79% – of managers in Europe are concerned about the issue of stress at work, and they have expressed a desire for greater support. There is a pressing need for the information, guidance and reassurance offered by the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign. It’s an invaluable opportunity to get across the important message that the benefits of investing in good safety and health outweigh the costs of implementation. Throughout the campaign, information, practical guides and tools and publicity materials were distributed in 25 languages, for anyone to use to promote better management of psychosocial risks. Many employers organised their own awareness-raising activities or held events to promote the use of practical tools for managing work-related stress and psychosocial risks. Stress can become overwhelming if not addressed properly, and it affects both workers and managers, in many types of jobs and activities across all countries. EU-OSHA’s campaign has been highly successful in providing a framework to address these risks and the level of participation in the campaign confirms this.


Further information


British Safety Council We are a trusted leader in health, safety and environmental management. As a not-for-profit organisation all our resources are directed to reducing risk and preventing injuries in the workplace, around the world. Our comprehensive services include training, audit, advice and accreditation. We help organisations of all sizes in all sectors develop and maintain effective policies and processes, working with and through our members to develop best practice. We’ve been doing this for nearly 60 years, educating millions of


workers and making hundreds of thousands of workplaces safety. We’re consulted directly on legislation and campaign actively to raise standards. Contact us on +44 (0)20 8741 1231 to learn more about our products and services or visit www.britsafe.org.


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