Health and Safety Executive spotlights mental health risks in the GB workforce – Osborne Clarke

According to annual statistics, the rate of work-related stress, depression and anxiety is increasing

Stress, depression and anxiety account for 51% of recorded work-related illnesses in the UK, according to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics for 2021-22.

The HSE reports that rates of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety, which had increased in the years before the pandemic, are higher than before the coronavirus.

The summary shows that work-related mental health problems have a significant impact on organizational and workplace productivity and that managing them can have a significant financial impact.

According to the report, 17 million workdays were lost last year due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 55% of all workdays lost to work-related illness.

The figures suggest that mental illness (including stress) will have a significant financial and operational impact on companies with workforces in the years to come.

Occupational lung diseases

Annual HSE statistics for the UK also show that the number of mesothelioma deaths increased slightly in 2020. More generally, the number of new cases of respiratory or pulmonary problems caused or aggravated by work has increased by 2,000 on average over the last three years since 2021. As time has passed since asbestos was banned in 1999, the frequency of However, cases are likely to fall and the HSE expects deaths from mesothelioma to fall over the period 2020-2030.

accident at work

The number of workplace deaths has continued to decline, falling from 142 in 2020-21 to 123 cases in 2021-22. Although more attention is being paid to mental health as a predominant and headline-grabbing occupational health and safety issue, the statistics indicate that preventing physical injury and ensuring adequate risk mitigation measures are in place should remain a key priority for organizations.

Enforcement and Prosecution

Figures for 2021-22 in the HSE’s Annual Report and Accounts, released earlier in the year, confirmed an increase in prosecutions over the previous year, but at lower levels than 2019-20. This increase can be partially explained by the Covid-19 pandemic, while law enforcement numbers in general continue to follow a downward trend. In 2021-22 there were five HSE prosecutions resulting in fines in excess of £1million, suggesting courts continue to hand out significant fines where they feel these fall within the scope of health and sentencing guidelines security are required.

Commentary by Osborne Clarke

Businesses should carefully review these latest statistics to see how they correlate with existing business risk registers and priorities, and see if they indicate a need for action.

These trends are a timely reminder for companies of their duty as employers to ensure that employees are not exposed to risks to their mental health and well-being at work. This is now an area of ​​strategic priority for HSE and we expect enforcement action to begin within the next 12 months. Reducing work-related ill health, with a particular focus on mental illness and stress, is the first objective of the HSE strategy to protect people and places for 2022-2032. HSE’s decision to prioritize mental health in the latest strategy was partially supported by driving the upward trends seen in recent statistics and comes with the launch of the HSE’s Working Minds campaign in 2022 duties in this area.

The latest statistics from the HSE reinforce the need for companies to understand their legal obligations when it comes to mental health. Businesses must ensure that health and safety policies and systems address both mental and physical health and safety, the risk is properly assessed and the business has a plan or strategy to manage that risk and that this is in accordance with current HSE guidelines taken into account. Date Guide, including its management standards.

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