Total annual cases of work-related stress are at an 18-year high, with more new cases reported than the previous year, figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for 2018/19 indicate.
The statistics show that stress continues to be a significant cause of workplace ill-health in Great Britain, with 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety and 12.8 million working days lost as a result in 2018/19.
As well as the human and quality of life impacts, work-related stress represents a substantial cost to employers, employees and the UK economy.
4-8 November marks International Stress Awareness Week, with initiatives highlighting the causes of stress and signposting sources of advice and support on managing it.
Factors such as workload, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work are believed to be the main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, based on previous Labour Force Survey data.
All employers have a legal duty to protect employees from work-related stress by assessing the risk and taking action to remove or tackle it.
IOSH, the Chartered body for safety and health professionals, advocates a holistic, proactive approach to managing health and rehabilitation issues at work.
Everyone within the workplace should work together to tackle the causes of work-related injury and ill-health, and where workers may need time off due to stress-related illness, effective rehabilitation policies should be included as part of a wider strategy on employee health, safety and wellbeing.
IOSH publishes a range of free guidance designed to support and inform members and motivate and influence health and safety stakeholders. This guidance provides useful information about how workplaces can manage stress and rehabilitation.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said: “Forward-looking organisations are already taking positive action on mental health at work and seeing the many benefits. So, it’s disappointing and concerning to see such high numbers of work-related stress, depression and anxiety cases. Employers should review their prevention and training strategies and ensure they’re providing sufficient support for their workers, particularly in these uncertain economic times.”