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  • For employers reading the guide – Work-Related Stress A Guide for Employers – the key message is that when it comes to work-related stress (WRS), the HSA’s focus is on risk assessment and hazard reduction. Therefore, if the HSA carries out an inspection and the employer has not carried out a risk assessment, the employer is at the very least going to have some explaining to do. The wise employer will also realise that in the event of an employee basing a personal injury claim on WRS, counsel for that employee will be making the judge aware of the HSA’s focus.

    The guide however recognises that much of the stress people experience comes from their personal lives but sometimes stress can be caused or made worse by work.

    Stress is defined “as the negative reaction people have to aspects of their environment as they perceive it”. WRS is defined as stress caused or made worse by work. The guide acknowledges that “it’s not easy to establish the degree to which the work environment and factors outside of work contribute to an individual’s stress level”.

    A number of factors that can cause WRS are mentioned and the effects are discussed. Employers are advised by the guide that they “must ensure demands placed on employees while at work are reasonable”.

    That, the guide states, is why the HSA promotes putting in place risk assessments and control measures. To prevent WRS, employers should apply the three main interventions:
    • Primary – prevention, which looks at the issue at source to prevent it occurring;
    • Secondary – management, which includes training in health and safety and support;
    • Tertiary – minimisation, by providing counselling and employee assistance programmes.

    Employers are introduced to the HSA’s ‘Work Positive’ tool, which is described as a very cost-effective and time-efficient tool for managing WRS.

    To accompany the guide for employers, the Authority has published a Work Related Stress Information Sheet for Employees. Stress and WRS are defined and employees are given guidance on what stress is and how to deal with it.

    Specifically, if it is work-related, they are advised to bring the problem to the attention of their manager, HR department, or their occupational health professional. In the longer term, employees are advised that if they are having difficulty in coping, they may need to seek medical assistance.

    The Guide can be accesses at http://bit.ly/naUES3
    The Information Sheet can be accessed at http://bit.ly/qD60Em