Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association :: View topic - Work related stress

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D.Etchell
Executive Committee
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Joined: Jan 01, 2007
Posts: 21
Location: South Yorkshire
PostPosted: Fri Nov 16, 2007 7:35 pm Reply with quote Back to top
In my 'proper' job, I am doing a lot of work to ensure risk assessments are either implemented or, work in progress. Currently I only have the views of large (I mean very big) organisations. I would like to hear if anyone from a more modest undertaking (ie less than 1,000 employees) have any specific views on this or, are experiencing any difficulties.
Regards
Diane
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C.Jerman
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Joined: Mar 11, 2008
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Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2007 10:51 am Reply with quote Back to top
Hi Diana. I'd be interested in your view on exactly what and where and who is included in a stress 'risk' assessment. Let me explain. If you (the HSE) intend that organisations should perform an overall risk assessment of themselves ie pretty much a review of the way in which we run the business and the levels of grief that we put our staff through, that's one thing. If it is the intention that every person should be 'risk' assessed in some formal way, I would start to question the use of the words 'risk assessment'. We all have to perform risk assessments - blah blah blah, 'nuff said. These documents are essentially public. If we do quasi-medical assessments on individuals to determine their pressure (NOT stress) levels, and we call them RISK assessments, isn't there a conficlt between confidentiallity and public availability. If an inspecting officer came in and said "show me your stress risk assessments" would we have to say, "Sorry they're confidential"?

My view:
1.Perform the 6 checks in the mgt stds on the COMPANY to establish if you are an evil employer or not.

2. Educate managers on how to manage change effectively and how to recognise early signs that things are not going so well for people (absenteeisn, alcohol, aggression etc etc) and how to refer them.

3. Have mechanisms for dealing with people sensitively and effectivley to ensure that they don't go 'all the way'

4. Provide resources for recovering the situation (the wheels falling off) and rehabilitaing people back to work.

It's my view that steps 1 - 3 get overlooked and we plan straight for step 4. Worry about it when it happens. Figures today say 250 000 people on benefit for stress. Personally I don't believe that. Stress is very real, but it has also become the new 'bad back' for people. Very difficult to diagnose and prove.


This is a matter for open debate, so eveyone jump in. Thought I'd post something for people to have a bit of a verbal punch-up.

Chris
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C.Jerman
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:03 am Reply with quote Back to top
Come on 48 views and no responses? Got to do better folks. Jump in we don't bite, although Diane has a special stare that she reserves for her interviews without coffee!
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T.Hedland
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Joined: Jan 08, 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 12:17 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Chris,

I agree that stress could easily become the new 'bad back', however that just highlights the ignorance surrounding the subject. (Not that I'm an expert in any way!)
Many people I've spoken too are frightened of opening 'Pandoras Box' and getting a flood of people 'suffering from stress'. Your 2nd point, Chris, is one of the most important and probably the one that gets missed more than anything else. The other points would be likely to be covered by good managers doing their job well.

I'll be getting stressed at Meadowhell this evening, I've done the assessment and rang my other half to suggest that she goes instead!!! What a miatake to make!

Have a good Christmas and see you all on the 8th.
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D.Emblen
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Joined: May 16, 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 28, 2007 5:51 pm Reply with quote Back to top
Having just had to organise for Diane and the rest of an HSE team to visit us for four days discussing stress with employees amongst other things, I feel I have a clear insight as to what people are describing as ‘Workplace Stress’ especially as we don’t get the results of the inspection back till the new year.

I still think that stress is the wrong word to be using when we talk about workplace factors that impact on the staff within their working environment. Stress in the way the general public, media and most workforces seem to understand is more akin to anxiety and depression within the individual ie can’t face going to work, irritability, aggression or regression with withdrawn behaviours, frequent minor sickness and absences from work, but these are also classic indicators of anxiety or poor mental health.

Stress in the way I believe the HSE look at it is about controlling the workplace and removing or reducing operational/organisational factors that have a detrimental effect on individuals or groups of employees. Its about physical and practical issues, it’s about the management of the working environment.

The HSE got it right when they dropped the word ‘Stress’ from the management standards.

As for it being the new bad back maybe they are right, it’s easily claimed and hard to disprove, as an employer you are guilty until proven innocent. It would be helpful if doctors stopped writing it on sick notes or we could go the other way and the HSE recognised it as an industrial condition so it can be reported under RIDDOR.

I know we are a long way short in effectively preventing workplace pressures brought on by organisational and operational shortfalls, impacting on our staff. But these are management issues rather than mental health issues hiding under the label of Stress, and I feel we should not confuse the two.

Talk about jumping in - I may see you on the 8th January if I still have a job


Dave.
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C.Jerman
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2008 1:18 pm Reply with quote Back to top
We're on the same wavelength here folks. Just one point to clarify - stress, real stress, is very real - if you get me. I have seen it first hand and it is very different from just having a bad day. My point was made in relation to overburdened and poorly informed GPs making snap decisions based on a 5 minute consultation with someone. 'Stress' is very convenient to claim, just as was a bad back. It would be interesting to have accurate figures of sick notes issued against REAL cases treated. The BRC, who represent litterally millions of employees in the UK are all in agreement that for all of the 'claims' from absent employees, very very very few of them ever come anywhere near a clinical definition - or for that matter a claim.

As we all seem to agree, it's not stress that you manage, it's the working environment and pressure - real or perceived that is the issue, at home and at work.

See at the meeting.

Chris
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