New HSE campaign targets good mental health in construction


CONSTRUCTION is one of five sectors to be targeted in a new campaign by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) aimed at helping businesses recognise the signs of work-related stress.

The HSE revealed mental health issues are the number one reason given for sick days, with more than 17 million working days lost in the UK last year as a result of stress, anxiety, or depression.

A recent survey by the charity Mind suggests that the mental health of two in five employees had worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

HSE’s new campaign, called ‘Working Minds’, examines issues relating to health at work. The regulator said it has teamed up with a number of organisations to highlight the triggers of stress, the legal duty of employers and how to manage risks. The network of Working Minds champions includes the charity Mates in Mind.

HSE’s 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.”

HSE added that it is reminding business that employers have a legal duty to assess the risks in the workplace – and not just in terms of potential hazards and physical safety. 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.”

Sarah Casemore, MD at Mates in Mind, commented, “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.

“We can only exceed in helping organisations better identify, understand and address the drivers of stresses at work by working together, creating greater consistency and clarity, so we’re very proud to be working alongside the HSE in this campaign.”

Dane Krambergar, head of workplace wellbeing services at Mind, another campaign partner, said, “We’re really pleased to be supporting HSE’s Working Minds campaign which aims to support businesses to promote good mental health among their staff. Mind has long been working with employers of different sizes and sectors to help them create mentally healthy workplaces, but this has never been more important. 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.”

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