United Kingdom National Work-Stress Network

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What's New 08.04.14

Work-Stress.net Annual Conference 2014 announcement

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

Guest and Network Speakers and a full programme of workshop sessions will examine the future of health and safety with particular reference to the mental health of women and men in the workplace. It will provide a forum for discussion for Safety Representatives and others on the front line.

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

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

Prices held at 2013 level - early Bird discount 10% by booking before 16th September 2014.

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

25th National Hazards Conference

Bad work makes us sick: We're not having it!

This years conference is being held at Keele University, Stoke-on-Trent from 29th to 31st August 2014. Hazards Conference is the UK's biggest event for trade union safety reps and activists and offers a programme to educate, organise and agitate to make work safe! This consists of a mixture of plenary sessions, debates, meetings and a comprehensive workshop programme with opportunities to learn, exchange experience and information with delegates from other unions and a wide range of sectors and jobs.

For more information and a booking form please visit the Hazards Campaign website

'Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress' - EU-OSHA Campaign

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) runs biennial 'Healthy workplaces campaigns' on specific health and safety topics. The previous campaign focused on leadership and worker involvement. The Campaign for the next 18 months, formally launched on 07 April 2014, is entitled 'Healthy workplaces manage stress'.

Stress is a major cause of sickness absence and costs business a great deal of money and causes sufferers a lot of misery. But despite its sensitive nature, stress and other psychosocial risks can be successfully tackled, and reduced; tackling stress in the workplace is worth the effort. It leads to improved worker health, cuts costs related to sickness absence and improves organisational performance

For further information you can please visit the EU-OSHA Campaign web pages

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.

UK 'worst' on workforce mental health support

Taken from TUC Risks 642, February 15th 2013

The UK is the worst performing OECD country when it comes to supporting workforce mental health, a new report has found. 'Mental health and work: The United Kingdom', published this week by the OECD, says better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work. It notes the majority of benefit claimants with mental health problems need a combination of health and employment interventions to improve their chances of finding a suitable job, adding that the new Health at Work Service should "have a strong focus on mental health". Speaking at the launch of the report, Professor Stephen Bevan, director of the Centre of Workforce Effectiveness at The Work Foundation, said: "One in six workers in the UK experience mental health difficulties with depression, stress and anxiety the most prevalent. As today's report reveals, the UK has the highest number of new disability benefits claims in the world with mental health difficulties the leading cause. The impact is felt not only in lost productivity and high sickness absence, but on individual self-esteem and quality of life. We welcome the OECD's recommendations which will better support people with mental health difficulties to enter and remain in work"

Further UK Workstress Conference 2013 Document

We have added a report for workshop 3 concerning Organisational Dysfunction. You can find it on the Conference page

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. Some papers are still awaited. 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

One in five employees have been forced to take time off work due to stress

One in five employees have been forced to take time off work due to stress after dealing with unrealistic expectations at work, a survey has found. The survey, conducted by serviced office provider Business Environment, found that a quarter (28.8 per cent) of workers feel stressed at work all, or most of, the time, and one fifth (21 per cent) said they took work home at least once or twice a week. Prolonged stress can lead to a variety of different health problems, including heart disease, depression, sleep deprivation and skin conditions.

Additionally, the survey found that some workers are turning to unhealthy methods of relaxation to combat their stress. Three per cent of workers have a cigarette to deal with stress, while six per cent turn to alcohol. Healthier, and more popular, methods of dealing with stress include going on a short walk to get fresh air (43.67 per cent), calling friends and family (32.66 per cent) and having a rant in private (28.02 per cent).

However, David Saul, managing director at Business Environment has warned that many companies are creating a culture where employees feel they are expected to work at all hours of the day at any cost. This research clearly shows that this is actually having a detrimental effect, not only on employee health and wellbeing, but also on the wider business with billions being lost in days taken off sick said Mr Saul. He continued: I believe all employers have a responsibility to challenge the status quo and cultivate an office environment where employees feel supported by senior staff and able to voice concerns before stress levels go through the roof. Of course, there will be times when employees are required to go above and beyond, but this should never be at the detriment to their health.

You can see more online by following this link

Australia: Workers are becoming more stressed

Taken from TUC Risks 631, 16th November 2013

Workplace stress is on the rise in Australia, according to a new survey, with three in four workers saying it is affecting their health. More than 1,500 people took part in the survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS). Professor Lyn Littlefield from the APS says there has been a continuous decline in workplace wellbeing since the surveys began two years ago. If stress isn't identified and adequately managed in the workplace, it can greatly impact overall workplace productivity and the long-term health of employees, she said. It is concerning that levels of stress are going up, while levels of satisfaction and workplace wellbeing are going down.

The lowest levels of wellbeing were reported in the survey by Australians aged between 18 and 25. The age group was also identified as having the highest levels of depressive symptoms. The survey also showed that those aged between 18 and 35 were more concerned about being able to pay for essential needs because of uncertainty about the future availability of work. Professor Littlefield said the survey provides insights into factors which reduce stress in the workplace. She says factors identified by those who had the highest levels of wellbeing and lowest levels of stress include feeling supported at work and receiving adequate feedback and recognition. This data can help businesses identify actions that will lead to a positive change,she said.

Hazards 2014 Sponsorship Appeal

Hazards 2014 is on 29th to 31st August 2014. They have sent out a sponsorship form (available here) as they depend on sponsorship to organise and run the conference and depend on the good will of all to circulate and support, and thanks to you all for your support.

Hazards Campaign Conference 2013 Presentations Published

The Hazards Campaign have published the presentations from their 2013 conference on their website. Click on this link to view the information

England's mental health services 'in crisis'

By Michael Buchanan BBC News

The mental health service in England is in crisis and unsafe, says one of the country's leading psychiatrists. Dr Martin Baggaley, medical director of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, spoke out as an investigation by BBC News and Community Care magazine reveals more than 1,500 mental health beds have closed in recent years. Many trusts have all their beds filled.

Care Minister Norman Lamb said the current situation was "unacceptable" and provision must improve. While there was a drive to treat more people in the community, he said beds must be available when patients needed them.

To read the full story please visit the BBC News website

Stressed workers suffering in silence, survey warns

There is a huge difference in the perceptions of managers and other staff about how mental health is addressed in the workplace, according to new statistics from the mental health charity, Mind.

The survey, which polled over 2,000 workers, suggests that stressed workers are suffering in silence. Of those polled, 45 per cent said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work, and a third (31 per cent) said they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.

The survey also found that while only 22 per cent of workers felt their boss takes active steps to help them manage stress, managers appeared to feel differently with 68 per cent saying they would find ways of helping staff who were stressed, or experiencing mental health problems.

Findings from Mind's survey include:

See more online at: the Safety and Health Practitioner website

Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'

Report cites staff cuts and fears for patient welfare, and says bullying by managers is increasing

Nurses are enduring "unprecedented" levels of stress and ill health as a result of staff cuts and overwork, forcing them to choose between their patients' wellbeing and their own, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.

Ever-increasing demands upon the health service's resources, combined with a slowdown in funding and frontline job cuts, have put serious strain on the nursing profession, according to an RCN survey. Pressure on wards is such that 82 per cent of nurses consulted by the RCN reported going to work while sick, because they feared patients would be at risk because of understaffing. Half said their stress levels had increased significantly in the past 12 months, with increased workloads and staff shortages the chief complaints. More than half of respondents in the "Beyond Breaking Point?" survey said they had been made unwell by work-related stress.

The survey of more than 2,000 nursing staff working in a range of NHS and private sector services has also shown how increased pressure is driving hospital managers into "panic behaviours". Nurses report increasing levels of bullying by managers, and a widespread blame culture that prevents frontline staff from voicing concerns about poor care. Labour has blamed the Government for understaffing and backed the RCN's calls for clearly defined safe minimum staffing levels to be set.

You can read the full story in The Independent on line

Hazards Conference, Keele July 2013, Excessive Workloads Workshop Report

Several delegates to the UK Hazards Conference in July attended the workshop session run by the Stress Network, and which covered issues related to work overload since the recession began. As promised we have a summary report of the findings of the two workshop sessions please follow this link for a copy

Worker kills himself after stress claim

Taken from TUC Risks 623, 21 September 2013

An inquest has heard that a top lawyer told a colleague he was going to kill himself the day before he threw himself under a Tube train. David Latham, 58, a world-renowned trademark lawyer at a large law company, was said to be 'inconsolable' with worry, and told a fellow partner that he was planning to kill himself after weeks of sleepless nights over the fate of a big case. The following morning, he jumped off the platform in front of an early morning Central Line train at Notting Hill Gate station in west London. His wife, Gillian Webb, told the inquest that she believes more should have been done by his employers to help Mr Latham. She said: "If a person shows the signs as David clearly had, they should have something put in place to prevent such tragedies." Coroner Jean Harkin ruled Mr Latham had committed suicide, after being satisfied that the balance of his mind was not affected when he died. TUC head of health and safety said that there had been a rise in incidents of suicides and premature deaths of workers in the city of London, apparently driven by increases in stress and long hours. He commented 'the collapse of pre-active inspections by local authorities and the HSE has meant that sectors such as law firms and financial institutions are now effectively self-regulating and as a result more workers are facing incredible pressures. These are clearly taking their toll and there is a clear case for a systematic inspection and intervention regime to force these companies to clean up their act and take their responsibilities to their staff seriously.'

Action as stress and bugs blight hospitals

Taken from TUC Risks 617, 10 August 2013

Over-stretched staff labouring in bug infested Leeds hospitals are wilting under the stress, GMB has said. The union was speaking out after the Yorkshire Evening Post revealed pest control has been summoned to hospitals in Leeds 771 times over the past two and a half years to deal with problems from rats to cockroaches. GMB's Bill Chard said: 'Continual re-organisation, higher than UK average levels of stress, mixed with ongoing financial pressures all add up to a lethal mix. The 2012 NHS staff survey showed that Leeds Teaching Hospitals staff suffered way above average stress levels with a whopping 46 per cent of those surveyed stating they had suffered work related stress.' He said the 'shocking statistics' on infestations reinforced the message that the hospitals are being mismanaged. 'This catalogue of vermin, rats, cockroaches, fleas, etc, are an indictment of a failing system. There are too many people at the top end earning mega money and too few essential workers like house keepers, porters and cleaners,' he added. 'The NHS must focus on patient care. It is not a business, it simply doesn't need all these layers of management and expensive consultants.'

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

Open Consultation on Noise Action

The Department for Environment, food and Rural affairs have published a draft consultation on Protecting and enhancing our urban and natural environment to improve public health and wellbeing which is continuing until October 29 2013. This consultation is seeking views on the second r ound of noise action plans which revise those previously adopted. There are three draft noise action plans covering roads, railways and agglomerations (large urban areas). The action plans have been prepared in line with the terms of the Environmental Noise Directive (END), which requires Member States to produce noise maps every five years charting the level of noise from industry and transport sources, and the number of people exposed to it. The action plans are produced as a result of the maps to provide guidance to those responsible for managing the noise, on how best to do so.

This is an important consultation as noise is one of the key contributors to stress. This is also an opportunity for you to help with future legislation. Please follow the link above to the government department website for further information.

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Come Tweet with us

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

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