Number one health and safety concern in the workplace is stress

A study by the TUC reveals that stress in the wokplace has now reached record levels and is cause for health and safety concern

The TUC have carried out a new survey into stress in the workplace and have found that a new way of dealing with mental health issues is needed, as stress in the British work place has now reached record levels, causing severe health and safety concerns.

They surveyed 1,000 union health and safety reps from different areas of the UK and out of those questioned, seven out of ten said that they suffered from stress, more so amongst those who have been affected by Government spending cuts.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, commented on the issue: “The message from the shop floor is clear, stress is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Pressures of long working hours and low job security are being felt in workplaces across the UK.”

Ms O’Grady added that stress in the workplace benefits no-one, including employers, and workers who do suffer from stress tend to be less productive and take more time off work.

According to Ms O’Grady, stress in the workplace can be reduced if workloads are kept to a reasonable level; if the working environment is calm and there are no concerns over bullying, harassment or violence; and if staff have the support and understanding of the management.

According to the survey, stress was the top concern across all eleven of the UK’s regions, including Scotland and Wales.

The biggest increase of stress in the workplace and worries over health and safety was in Northern Ireland, which had increased by 13% to 78%, compared to 65% only two years previously.

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UK Health and Safety Week – What it is and how to keep staff safe

Health and Safety Week is being held between 20-24 June, 2016

The Health and Safety at Work Act was first introduced in the UK in 1974 and thanks to it, we have one of the best health and safety records in the world.

Health & Safety Week was launched forty years later in 2014, in a bid to encourage employers and employees across the UK to embrace health and safety issues within the workplace, by taking part in a number of activities and initiatives during the year.

Health and Safety Week to be held in June

Health and Safety Week logo

More than 1.2 million people in 2014-15 suffered from a work related illness, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and there were 76,054 non-fatal injuries reported during the same time period.

23 million working days each year are lost because of injuries and illnesses caused by unsafe conditions in today’s workplaces.

Business owners have a duty of care towards all members of staff and should ensure that they adhere to adequate health and safety procedures, to make sure that staff members are kept safe whilst at work.

Providing a safe working environment for employees can help reduce the risk of incidents happening within the workplace and should be top priority for all business owners.

The first step in developing an efficient safety plan is to carry out a risk assessment within the workplace and to write down all potential dangers and hazards that could possibly affect the health and safety of staff members.

Risk assessments should be carried out regularly, ensuring that health and safety procedures within the company are always up-to-date.

After the assessment has been done, specific measures can then be put in place to help reduce the risk of an incident occurring within the workplace.

Companies are also urged to look at past assessments to see where positive changes could be made.

Employees are also expected to play their part and should tell employers if they notice anything that could be a danger to workers and should always follow all health and safety instructions.

All employees should be fully trained in their role, for example, if they work with a specific piece of equipment, they must be trained to use it correctly and safely and know what to do in case of an incident.

If carrying our hazardous or dangerous duties, all employees must be supplied with the correct protective equipment, such as gloves, eye protection wear, safety helmets or high-vis clothing.

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Employment law: calls to increase whistleblower protection

Present employment laws do not sufficiently protect whistleblowers

A new study has implied that present employment laws fail to sufficiently protect and compensate whistleblowers.

According to Blueprint for Free Speech (BFS), the Public Interest Disclosure Act (Pida) fails to include clear-cut measures to protect employees if they get sacked, or are harassed at work for reporting any wrongdoing, such as abuse, corruption, or if they report a crime.

The study by the BFS suggests that the present employment laws do not have enough power behind them to penalise anyone that may retaliate against whistleblowers and they are only offered legal protection after proving proof that they have become the victim of harassment because of their conduct.

International whistleblower expert, Dr Suelette Dreyfus, who was also the co-author of the report said: “Pida has not kept pace with our understanding of how to protect whistleblowers, or with increasingly advanced tactics for retaliation.”

She went on to say that the current law “is not providing the protection it should”, despite being considered “internationally as a gold standard when it was passed in 1998”.

At a recent awards ceremony in London, the Thomson Reuters Foundation and the BFS hosted the Blueprint for Free Speech prize evening, which highlighted the courage and honesty of whistleblowers and the positive impact they show in the public’s interest.

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Workplace dress code: What are the laws?

Employment law: outraged woman sets up petition to ask the government to change the dress code law

A new employment law debate is raging across the UK after one outraged woman took to social media to complain that she was sent home from a temporary corporate receptionist position because she refused to wear high-heeled shoes.

Nicola Thorp walked into her new job at a City of London corporate firm wearing smart flat shoes. She was told immediately that she would have to change her flat shoes to high-heels, with an heel height of between two to four inches.

Woman sets up a petition to ban employers from demanding high-heels in the workplace

The petition on the website

Ms Thorp refused to comply with these dress code demands as her nine-hour shift involved escorting clients to and from meeting rooms and she did not believe she could manage the whole day wearing high-heels. She was consequently told to go home without pay.

Under the current law, employers can set “reasonable” dress code rules for men and women. The dress code can be different for men and women but must be the “equivalent level of smartness”.

So technically, employers can demand that female employers wear high-heels in the workplace without them breaching the law.

According to a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry, wearing high-heels for long periods of time on a regular basis can cause back problems, bunions, calve pain and can result in ankle injuries.

Ms Thorp has since launched a petition to the government for “women to have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work”. It has since been signed over 140,000 times and must now be debated in Parliament.

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