United Kingdom National Work-Stress Network

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What's New 21.10.14

Work-Stress.net Annual Conference 2014
Book now to avoid disappointment

What next?

Tackling work-stress in an uncertain future - we're dying to ease the burden on business!

This conference takes place as we approach a General Election and a possible change of Government.
Saturday November 22nd to Sunday 23rd, 2014

Speakers and workshop sessions will examine the future of health and safety including particular reference to the mental health and gender in the workplace. It will provide a forum for discussion for Safety Representatives and others on the front line of combating work-stress the 21st century epidemic..

Speakers will include Dr David Whyte, Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology Dept., Liverpool University; co-author with Steve Tombs and others "Reappraising Regulation - the politics of regulatory retreat in the UK"

Tracey Harding, National Officer H&S, UNISON

Rebecca Norris, NHS Scotland, Work and Wellbeing

Jeffry Zindani, Solicitor

Conference Chair, Carolyn Jones, Director, Institute of Employment Rights, Liverpool

Workshops will include:-
Corporate Violence and Work, Gender and Stress, Raising H&S Issues for the General Election, Legal Update on Stress Cases, Disability and workplace stresses, Data gathering for Risk Assessments, Job Insecurity and Stress, Work-Stress Burnout and Sleep deprivation, and more.......

Prices held at 2013 level

To access the booking details and form via PDF and MS Word follow the links!

Help Required for a Conference Workshop

Bob Woods is running a workshop on the impact of Zero Hours Contracts and Multiple Employers on representation issues for TU reps and stewards for the above Stress Network National Conference in November.

Bob would be grateful if website subscribers and conference attendees can read and complete this document so he can develop case study material for use in the workshop. Bob requires the information to be sent to him by November 14th to robertjohnwoods@aol.com (this is not an active link, you will have to copy and paste this into your e-mail)

Previous workshops have been very enhanced by this process! All contributions used will be disguised and possibly composited. Thanking you in anticipation!

European H&S Week 2014, Network Newsletter

We have the next edition of our newsletter available for you to read. This special edition has been issued to coincide with the European Health and Safety Week which runs from Monday 20th to Sunday 26th October. You can read the newsletter by following this link. This s in PDF format only.

Europe: Stress remains a major problem at work

Taken from TUC Risks 676, 18 October 2014

A quarter of workers in Europe report feeling stressed at work all or most of the time, and a similar proportion say that work affects their health negatively, a new report has revealed. "Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention&#quot; has been published jointly by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Working and Living Conditions (Eurofound). They found fewer people report working long hours but say at the same time job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis. Director of EU-OSHA, Dr Christa Sedlatschek, said "Psychosocial risks, although more sensitive, can be tackled in the same systematic way as 'traditional' workplace risks." Eurofound director Juan Menéndez-Valdés added: "Reducing psychosocial risks and protecting workers from these risks is critical for allowing longer working lives and preventing early labour market exits." He added: "Research shows that the role of social dialogue and social partners is relevant to raise awareness and implement interventions."

UCATT to focus on stress during European Safety Week

Construction union UCATT are highlighting the increasing problem of workplace stress during European Health and Safety Week which runs from Monday 20th October - Friday 24th October. The theme of this year's week is workplace stress. UCATT has found an increasing number of construction workers are affected by stress. The union has published a new leaflet in order to help workers become more aware of the issue. The leaflet is available on their website

UCATT officials and activists throughout the UK will be highlighting the problems of stress at work, during the week. Workplace stress has become an increasing problem in many workplaces due to a number of factors including: cuts in staffing numbers, workers forced to work excessive hours and bullying and harassment from management. Steve Murphy, General Secretary, said: "Workplace stress is a debilitating condition which can lead to severe physical and mental illness. It is essential that if construction workers are suffering from stress then they are given help and support to resolve the problem."

Last year 42 workers were killed in the construction industry. Many of those deaths were entirely preventable. One of the features of European Health and Safety Week is for workplace safety reps to undertake a thorough inspection of their workplace. This takes place on National Inspection Day which is Wednesday 22nd October. UCATT safety reps will be conducting inspections of their workplaces and in several cases will be examining their company's supply chain as well.

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Workers "hiding stress and depression"

Huge numbers of workers are hiding mental health conditions from their employers because they fear it will affect their career, according to a new report published today. A survey of 2,000 adults by insurers Friends Life showed that two out of five have suffered from stress, anxiety or depression in the past year and not told their boss.More than one in four of those surveyed said they had taken a day off sick and claimed that it was for a physical rather than mental health problem. The most common cause of stress was excessive workload, followed by frustration with poor management and long working hours, the study found. More than half of those polled said their career prospects would be damaged if they were open about stress or anxiety. Younger workers were more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety or stress, said the report.

Friends Life group chief executive Andy Briggs said: "Our research shows that there is still much to be done in tackling mental health issues in the workplace."

One in 10 social workers "would quit" over stress

Social workers "Under huge pressure"

The stress of ' sharing people's misery' and the dangers of inexperienced staff are leading many social workers to want to quit the profession, a study says. Nearly one in 10 UK social workers (8%) are considering leaving the job, with over a fifth of these blaming stress or unmanageable caseloads, it adds. Many blame poor management and too little time with clients. Community Care magazine and recruitment firm TMP surveyed 2,100 social workers and carried out 20 in-depth interviews. The research suggests social work has become more demanding, with 94% of those surveyed saying there is more day-to-day pressure on social workers than ever before.


One interviewee said: "My stress levels are perpetually too high and my mental and physical health suffers as a result. Most nights I wake up in the night worrying about work I have not had time to do. I struggle to enjoy life outside work as I'm so exhausted."
Another said: "I love social work but sharing people's misery is becoming too much." The survey also suggested there was a sense that such high stress levels were ignored by bosses.
One social worker said: "With high caseloads and a lack of support, I feel unable to do a good job." Another added:"There is a consistent disbelief of workers' stress levels, and difficulties in managing such high caseloads."

Culture of blame

Another highlighted problems with the culture of her workplace: "I am sick to death of tokenism, political correctness, and a risk averse, process-led and incompetent management driven only by the need to appease Ofsted." This was reflected by another, who said: "The management structure is top-heavy and the blame culture is still prevalent."

Manager of the British Association of Social Workers England Maris Stratulis said: "Members continue to contact us about poor management and poor support including irregular supervision, limited career development opportunities, and an organisational culture of blame. It is critical that employers engage in open dialogue with social workers on a regular basis. Employers need to walk the floor, talk face to face with social workers, and dig deep about the key issues that social workers are citing as to why their current organisation is not a good place to work."

EU OSHA European Good Practice Awards - Healthy workplaces manage stress

The closing date for the Good Practice Awards is coming up fast! The EU OSHA Good Practice Awards 2014–15 aim to highlight leading examples of companies or organisations actively managing stress and psychosocial risks at work. The deadline for submissions is 6 October 2014. Organisations of all sizes can enter and there are two categories, one for organisations employing fewer than 100 workers and one for those employing 100 or more. Entries are welcome from employers, workers and intermediaries such as social partners, safety and health professionals and practitioners, and those providing assistance and information at the workplace level.

For full details on entry criteria and how to enter, follow this link

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TUC Issue Revised Stress Guide

The TUC has revised it's guide to reducing stress at work for European Health & Safety Week. It states clearly that employers must complete stress risk assessments, preferably by using the HSE's stress management standards, and they must consult union health and safety representatives in that process. This should ensure employers act to reduce the risk of stress in the first place, not just focussing on picking up the pieces when someone is made is unwell or adding to their burden with aggressive sickness management systems.

The guidance can be accessed through the webpage for the week by following this link to the document Or directly at the TUC Stress Webpage

Stress tops the workplace concerns of UNISON reps

Taken from TUC Risks 672, 20.09.14

UNISON health and safety reps have identified stress as a top hazard in the workplace. Responding ahead of next month's European Health and Safety Week, 9 out of 10 reps placed stress and related issues including bullying and harassment, violence and threats, overwork and long hours, as their most serious workplace concern. UNISON says its survey findings reinforce the union's call for branches to support the stress-themed European Health and Safety Week, which this year runs from Monday 20 October to Sunday 26 October. The union is urging branches to check that employers have a policy and procedure on workplace stress and that it includes the 'pointers' identified in UNISON's guide on stress. It adds that they should ensure the employer 'has risk assessed stress as a workplace hazard and put in place appropriate measures to prevent and control', and 'that these policies, procedures, and risk assessments either take into account or take a similar approach to the HSE's management standards for work-related stress.' UNISON says its reps should "raise these issues with the employer as appropriate." The union is also encouraging its union reps to participate in the TUC's National Inspection Day, on Wednesday 22 October

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More must be done to help people with mental health problems stay in work

Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies says mental illness cost £100bn last year yet 75% of people received no treatment

Dame Sally Davies said around 70m working days were lost to mental illness last year.More help is urgently needed to help people with mental health problems stay in their jobs, says the government's chief medical officer, warning of the toll of mental illness on individuals and the economy.

Dame Sally Davies said that around 70m working days were lost to mental illness last year, costing the economy £70 to £100bn. The number of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety has risen by 24% since 2009, she says in her annual report. Yet 75% of people with diagnosable mental illness get no treatment at all. "The costs of mental illness to the economy are astounding. Through this report, I urge commissioners and decision-makers to treat mental health more like physical health," said Davies. "Anyone with mental illness deserves good quality support at the right time. One of the stark issues highlighted in this report is that 60 to 70% of people with common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety are in work, so it is crucial that we take action to help those people stay in employment to benefit their own health as well as the economy." There is a great need for earlier treatment for children and young people with mental health problems, she said. Half of adult mental illness starts before the age of 15 and 75% by the age of 18. Unless young people get help, they risk a life of problems including unemployment, substance misuse, crime and antisocial behaviour. "Under-investment in mental health services, particularly for young people, simply does not make sense economically," she said.

Mark Winstanley, chief executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said that for many people with mental illness, having a job can be a crucial of managing their condition and staying well."But often people get very little support to go back to work after a period of mental illness, or to stay in employment," he said. "Many employers also assume that if you have a mental health problem, you won't be able to hold down a job." More specialist help to get people with mental illness back into the workplace and greater understanding from employers was needed, he said. But those who were unable to work because of their condition should not be demonised.

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, agreed with the emphasis on keeping people in work and supported Davies' call for more mental health training for all doctors as well as waiting time and access standards for patients.

Professor Sheila Hollins, chair of the British Medical Association's Board of Science said: "We are encouraged by this report and will continue to call for equal treatment for both physical and mental health patients, the reduction of waiting times for mental health patients, and the introduction of equal funding between mental health services and other NHS services."

Germany: Ban on out-of-office contact investigate

Taken from TUC Risks 670, 05.09.14

German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new 'anti-stress' legislation that would ban companies from contacting employees out of hours. Concerns over rising levels of workplace stress prompted the minister to commission a report investigating the viability of legislation that would restrict the use of emails to contact staff outside of work. She told journalists: "There is an undeniable relationship between constant availability and the increase of mental illness. We have commissioned the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to work out whether it is possible to set load thresholds. We need universal and legally binding criteria." It is already illegal in Germany for employers to contact staff during holidays. Several major companies such as Volkswagen and BMW have also implemented their own restrictions on contacting employees out of hours. Last year the German Labour Ministry banned managers from contacting staff outside of work. Recently, car manufacturer Daimler installed software on its systems which automatically deletes emails sent to staff out of hours. A study released recently by the union DGB showed that increasing numbers of German workers are retiring early through stress. The findings of the workplace stress report will be delivered next year. Earlier this year, unions and employers in France's technology and consultancy sectors agreed a legally binding agreement that workers would no longer have to answer work emails or phone calls outside work hours,

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UNISON Sets a Date for Work Stress Action

Taken from TUC Risks 662, 12.07.14

UNISON is calling on its members to campaign against government spending cuts it says are putting both stressed-out workers and communities at risk. The public sector union say October's stress-themed European Health and Safety Week will provide a vital opportunity to promote good health and safety practice. According to UNISON, job cuts are leaving those who remain faced with rising workloads, while cuts to pay and the fear of redundancy combine to hit morale and leave workers stressed. "That's a toxic cocktail that can make work unhealthy, while a workforce that is stressed and distracted by financial worries is also unlikely to provide the very best service", it adds. The union points out that the theme of this year's European Health and Safety Week, which takes from 20-26 October, is "Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress&#quot; It notes that "if an employer fails to properly assess for stress, and then implement measures to prevent and control it, workers are put at risk and a workplace can become unhealthy." UNISON says the health and safety week provides an "ideal opportunity" for safety reps to raise stress at work with management and their members, and to "campaign for properly-funded, publicly-provided local services, thus challenging the cuts that harm health and safety and the services themselves." It adds the union should "recruit and organise against the spending and pay cuts, and the attack on jobs and health and safety"

Look Who is Supporting the Network

It's none other than Ricky Tomlinson. Thanks Ricky.

Ricky Tomlinson supports the Stress Network

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Stressed teachers 'at breaking point'

Taken from TUC Risks 658, 14 June 2014

Scotland's teachers "are at breaking point" over increased workloads and changes to their jobs, the union EIS has warned. General secretary Larry Flanagan told the union's annual conference last week there was evidence many teachers were struggling to cope. A recent health and wellbeing survey, commissioned by the EIS, suggested severe workload pressures were placing strain on teachers and leading to increased stress and health problems. The EIS leader said: "Teachers are becoming increasingly worn out and frustrated. The message they are sending out is that enough is enough - action is needed now to lighten the load on our teachers." He added:"The evidence is that many teachers are increasingly approaching breaking point. They have been driven there by a combination of factors that are out of their control. The budget-cutting austerity agenda has reduced both staffing and resource levels in schools, placing increasing pressure on teachers to achieve more with less."

Help Needed To Test a Stress Information Toolkit

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) is currently carrying out a project funded by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU OSHA) to develop an information toolkit on stress and psychosocial risks at work. This important piece of work will eventually be translated into all of the different official languages of the EU and will help the managers and owners of micro and small businesses to understand this topic. Here in the UK, evidence from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the incidence of lost time due to stress-related problems at work is increasing; and has overtaken musculoskeletal problems as the main cause of sickness absence and a similar pattern can be seen throughout the EU so it is important to get it right.

As part of this work the IOM need to recruit the owners or managers of some small (11-50 employees) and micro (1-10 employees) companies to help evaluate the toolkit content and its usability. This will be done through the use of an online survey questionnaire. If you complete the survey you will be entered in to a draw to win a Kindle or equivalent monetary value donation to charity. In addition to this, as a result of your participation in this work the IOM will ensure that on final completion of the e-guide they will provide you with an updated version.

If you are interested in taking part in this evaluation then please get in touch with the IOM either richard.graveling@iom-world.org or alice.davis@iom-world.org (these e-mail addresses are not active on this page) or visit their website www.iom-world.org/news-events/news/2014/help-the-iom-to-test-a-stress-information-toolkit/

Extended Timeline of Unions in the UK

Trade unions are an integral part of the UK workforce, with the TUC representing 6.2 million trade union members in 2013 across 54 affiliated unions. With such a large number of trade unions in the UK, it can be difficult to learn about each trade union and how they came to be. By utilising design and interactivity, the timeline (click here to go to the website) aims to make information about unions in the UK more accessible

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The Health and Safety of Older Workers- Guidance

A Guide for Workplace Representatives

There is a higher proportion of older people in Britain now than at any time in recent history and it is likely to increase. At present one in every six people is over the age of 65, but by 2033 that is expected to rise to almost one in four. We are also seeing changes in the number of older people in the workplace. The number of people aged 65 and over reached the 1 million mark for the first time in 2013. This is partly because we are living longer but also because birth-rates are falling

This guidance, downloadable using this link, will help workplace representatives accommodate for an ageing workforce

Healthy Working Lives Scotland

Healthy Working Lives are Scotland's national service here to help employers create a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce. We work with all kinds of businesses, completely free of charge, offering practical information and advice to help improve health and safety and the wellbeing of everyone at work.

For further information please go to our Links page

TUC Guide for Safety Reps to Safety and Migrant Workers

This is the introduction from the Online guide

The issue of the safety of migrant workers in the UK became a national issue when at least 23 workers were killed by rising tides while harvesting cockles in Morecambe Bay. Since then there have been a number of further individual tragedies, mainly in agriculture and construction. Unfortunately there are no accurate figures on the number of migrant workers who are killed, injured or made ill through work. However many migrant workers do face specific difficulties and this guide from the TUC has been written to help safety representatives and other union officials work with migrant workers to make sure that their rights are protected.

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New Stress Booklet

A new edition of our Work Stress booklet has been published and is available by clicking on the link here

2013 Annual Stress Network Conference

Well - the 2013 Annual Stress Network Conference was a great success. We had over 90 delegates the largest ever attendance. Very special thanks to our keynote speakers, especially Professor Phil Taylor and his marvellous cats, to Susan Murray at UNITE and to Geoff Smith and Russ Walters from NASUWT in the Northwest. Thanks also to workshop facilitators and especially to ALL delegates who helped to make the weekend another success. We value your support. And we hope to see you all next year!

The 2013 Conference report and supporting papers are now available to view and download. There are also links to a couple of YouTube videos to view

The conference newsletter is now available from our newsletters page.

The Conference page. links to our previous conferences

Health and Safety Executive Bulletins

The HSE publish a Health and Safety Digest on their website weekly and the site is updated daily. For further information visit the What's New section at hse.gov.uk

Come Tweet with us

The Stress Network now has a Twitter page @workstressuk where you can keep up to date and join in conversations

next page Next: About us

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