Managers and OSH professionals key to promoting workplace health and wellbeing
Tuesday 1st March 2016
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A seminar hosted by IOSH's Midland Branch East District heard that promoting worker wellbeing, tackling the causes of work-related ill health and supporting employees with mental health problems can all help businesses to create a healthier world of work.
A total of 9.9 million working days were lost across Britain in 2014-15 due to stress, anxiety and depression, with workload pressures and a lack of managerial support among the common causes.
Experts in mental health, business resilience and workplace safety and health shared their thoughts on how employers can reduce this figure and improve overall staff wellbeing.
Prof Derek Mowbray, director of the Management Advisory Service, said managers have the ability to prevent stress, and that safety and health professionals should be there to advise them.
He said: "Their job is to manage people. The problem in the UK is that most managers are project managers and not people managers.
"What you (safety and health professionals) have got to do is focus on the managers and help them to understand how to manage people."
This message was echoed by Ron Reid, partner at Shoosmiths LLP, who said that ensuring managers can identify stress, and know what to do about it, was "probably the biggest challenge you face in your roles".
He highlighted that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated 466 RIDDOR ill health incidents in 2014/15, up from 258 in the previous year.
HSE psychologist Peter Kelly said the changing 24/7 nature of the work environment and advancements in technology were contributing factors in the development of work-related illnesses.
He told delegates of the need for "organisational intervention" to make a workforce as a whole more resilient, rather than solely focusing on an individual's personal resilience.
"What you want to see is organisations manage the risk of work-related stress and see it as part of overall organisational resilience," he said.
"Top companies look after their people. Look after your people and they will look after you - it's a simple principle."
Ways of dealing with work-related mental health issues now and into the future were also explored by Dr Paul Litchfield, chief medical officer at BT Group plc, and Paul Farmer, CEO of mental health charity MIND.
Paul Farmer said that while society as a whole was becoming more aware about mental health as a subject, it remains a "major issue for our generation to address".
Businesses need to assess whether their organisational structure may be contributing to causing work-related mental health problems, he added.
Around 90 people attended the seminar, which took place at the Dunchurch Park Hotel, in Dunchurch, Warwickshire, on Wednesday 24 February.
The event was the district's annual memorial seminar dedicated to John Lawley, who devoted over 40 years of his life to IOSH and promoting improved safety for all.
IOSH past president Lisa Fowlie gave the John Lawley Memorial Lecture, in which she emphasised the need for early intervention around work-related illnesses.
District Chair Les Pearce said: "We wanted this event to bring the issue to the fore and show just how investing in health and wellbeing can bring a real benefit to both employees and employers."
The event was one of the last before the district becomes the new IOSH MidShires Branch in April.
Nominations are open for the 2016 West of Scotland Branch Certificate of Merit Awards. The branch is looking for members of the institution to put forward non-OSH professionals within their organisation who have made a valuable contribution to safety and/or health. The awards will be handed out at a ceremony and annual dinner at Hampden Park Stadium, Glasgow, on Thursday 28 April.
The Northern Ireland Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) wants its milestone year to help businesses take steps to prevent people being killed, injured or suffering ill health as a result of their work.Twenty-three workers died in Northern Ireland in 2014/15, including nine people who were employed in the agriculture and five in construction.
Producer Millie Marsh and production manager Katherine Pearl overcame gale force winds and enlisted the help of professionals including riggers, the coastguard and experienced sailors to safely create their ambitious short film, Those Who Are Lost.Their work has been honoured by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), which crowned them the winner of the Health and Safety Management in Film Production Award at the National Film and Television School’s (NFTS) Graduation Show 2016.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) invited recently-elected MPs – who have taken up their role since the 2015 general election – and new peers to its ‘Promoting Mental Health at Work’ event.It was hosted by Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield. IOSH president Dr Karen McDonnell gave an opening address before further speeches from mental health experts Lord Layard and Dr Paul Litchfield.
The Council is IOSH’s representative body, providing advice and guidance on strategic, professional and policy issues. It represents the views of members to the Board of Trustees and has the key responsibility for choosing who will represent the Institution as President.Later this year, a ballot will be conducted to elect new members of Council. Twelve members will be elected by vote to join after the Institution’s Annual General Meeting in November, at the IOSH Networks Conference. Successful candidates will serve for three years.
Dame Judith Hackitt said shared learning and networking among occupational safety and health professionals can make a real difference to the wellbeing of workers across Britain.The message came as Dame Judith’s attended the inaugural meeting of the IOSH Staffordshire Branch, where she spoke to members about the HSE’s five-year strategy to shape the future of Britain’s health and safety system.