Work related stress
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has defined ‘stress’ as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them’. Pressure in itself is not necessarily bad and many people thrive on it - it is when pressure is experienced as excessive by an individual that ill health can result.
The HSE’s key messages on stress are:
- Work-related stress is a serious problem for organisations. Tackling it effectively can result in significant benefits for organisations.
- There are things organisations can do to prevent and control work-related stress.
- The law requires organisations to take action.
The HSE commissioned research has indicated that:
- about half a million people in the UK experience work-related stress at a level they believe is making them ill
- up to 5 million people in the UK feel “very” or “extremely” stressed by their work
Management Standards for Work-Related Stress
The Standards are being prepared to provide a yardstick against which organisations can measure their progress in tackling work-related stress and can target action where it is most needed. These Standards are being developed and piloted with industry and the public sector. The formal pilot study finished last Autumn and evaluation will continue into 2004.
Duty to manage asbestos risks becomes law from May 2004
The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations have created a new duty to manage asbestos containing materials. This new duty becomes a legal requirement in May 2004.
All premises must have effective systems in place for managing the risks from asbestos. Those particularly at risk are maintenance workers and this new duty is mainly about protecting them.
For further information see the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) leaflet ‘Managing asbestos: Your new legal duties’ or visit their website.
Falls from height
Typically every year around 80 people die and nearly 4,000 suffer a serious injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace. Falls from height are the most common cause of fatal injury and the second most common cause of major injury to employees, accounting for 15% of all such injuries. All industry sectors are exposed to the risks presented by this hazard although the level of incidence varies considerably.
Experience shows that these events usually arise due to poor management control rather than because of equipment failure
Common factors include:
- Failure to recognise a problem.
- Failure to ensure that safe systems of work are followed.
- Inadequate information, instruction, training or supervision provided.
- Failure to provide safe plant/equipment.
Proposals for Work at Height Regulations
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) is currently seeking views on the draft Work at Height Regulations, which will implement the Temporary Work at Height Directive (2001/45/EC). It is anticipated that this document will attract a wide interest as the Regulations are intended to apply to any situation where work at height is carried out.
Falls from height are the biggest single cause of fatal injuries, and the second biggest cause of major injuries, caused by accidents at work - and it is hoped that these Regulations will help to make a substantial impact on the problem.