People get confused about the difference between pressure and stress.
Everyone at work experiences pressure regularly – it can create a ‘buzz’ and motivate people to perform at their best. Stress is the adverse reaction people have to too much pressure, making them feel unable to cope with the demands being placed on them.
Stress can hit anyone at any level within an organisation, and recent research shows that work-related stress is widespread and not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries.
Work-related stress is a major cause of occupational ill health which can cause severe physical and psychological conditions in employees. It can also lead to poor productivity and human error, increased sickness absence, increases in accidents, high staff turnover and poor performance.
HSE statistics show that work-related stress is a significant issue with more than 11.5 million working days lost as a result of stress, anxiety or depression at a conservative estimated cost of £5.2 billion to industry, individuals and the government.
The HSE believes that good management is the key to managing the causes of work-related stress, and has developed the ‘Management Standards’ approach to tackling it. The Management Standards refer to six areas of working conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health, wellbeing and organisational performance but which, if not properly managed, can lead to stress.
These Management Standards are: demands; control; support; relationships; role; and change.
The Management Standards demonstrate good practice through a step by step risk assessment approach.
As an employer, the Council has a legal responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. This includes minimising the risk of stress-related illness or injury.
The Council recognises this responsibility and as a result has developed and implemented its Policy HS19 – Workplace Stress.
This Policy is based on the HSE’s Management Standards approach to dealing with work-related stress.
Advice on work-related stress can be obtained from the Health and Safety Team, Tŷ Elai, Williamstown, CF40 1NY, telephone number 01443 425546.