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HSE targets construction in mental health initiative

16 Nov 21 Construction is one of five sectors being specifically targeted in a new campaign aimed at helping businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) says that mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days in across the UK economy. Last year more than 17 million working days were lost as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression.

In response HSE is launching a campaign, ‘Working Minds’, to help businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress.

The Working Minds campaign has partnered with other organisations, including the charity Mates in Mind. HSE wants to see a culture change across Britain’s workplaces to get psychological risks treated the same as physical ones in health and safety risk management.

HSE chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Work-related stress and poor mental health should be treated with the same significance as risks of poor physical health and injury. In terms of the affect it has on workers, significant and long-term stress can limit performance and impact personal lives. No worker should suffer in silence and if we don’t act now to improve workers’ mental health, this could evolve into a health and safety crisis.

“The pandemic has highlighted the need to protect the health of employees who have faced unprecedented challenges; the government is committed to building back better and we want to make sure good mental health is central to this.”

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HSE is reminding business that no matter where people work, employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace, not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety. They should also promote good working practices. It says this promotes an open environment where employees can share their concerns and discuss options to ease pressures.

Sarah Albon added: “Our campaign is focused on giving employers a clear reminder of their duties while championing reducing work-related stress and promoting good mental health at work.”

Mates in Mind managing director Sarah Casemore added: “The mental health challenge, particularly related around workplace stress is really important to discuss. The impacts of work-related stress are significant and can affect anyone at any time, but they’re still not consistently approached and addressed in workplaces across construction. Many people are leaving their jobs across construction each year due to mental health reasons.”

Dane Krambergar, head of workplace wellbeing services at Mind, another campaign partner, said: “This campaign couldn’t have come at a better time, given the impact the pandemic has taken on employers and staff.  We recently surveyed over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations. Two in five (41%) employees told us their mental health had worsened during the pandemic.”

For more information about the Working Minds campaign see www.workright.campaign.gov.uk/working-minds.

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