The HSC Stress Management Standards consultation ended on 27 August 2004.
HSE employed a web-based approach to the consultation supported by a CDROM available free of charge. The CDROM was distributed through a number of publications selected to impact on key target sectors.
Thank you to all who responded to the consultation. The public consultation is the final stage of the consultation process. The development of the Standards has also been informed by the pilot exercise and a number of 'expert workshops' attended by academics, Occupational Health and HR professionals, Trade Unions and representatives from British industry. Your views on the development of this important work are greatly appreciated and will now be taken into account in the further development of the Stress Management Standards.
From the analysis of the responses, it is clear that the majority of respondents agreed that the states to be achieved under each Standard could potentially be achieved in their workplace.
Around three quarters of respondents thought that some sort of numerical target would be helpful, but were divided on how the target should be presented i.e. an absolute cut off, an aspirational target or a stepped approach. A preference was expressed for an aspirational target promoting continuous improvement.
HSE has received corporate responses from 30 organisations including Trades Unions, Employers' Representatives and Individual Companies. All respondents broadly welcome the development of the Standards and agree that stress is an important issue to tackle in the workplace. However, the TUC and unions would prefer to see an Approved Code of Practice supported by rigorous enforcement, while the Employers' Organisations are supportive of a non-legislative approach.
Respondents generally express a concern that too much emphasis is placed upon using surveys as the sole means of assessing the risk of work-related stress and highlight that other methods need to be identified. Some highlight a need for sector specific guidance and separate guidance aimed at SMEs.
Respondents also express general concern about the use of percentages, particularly in the form use for the Management Standards pilot (ie. an absolute cut off). There is a consensus that the most effective approach would be to promote best practice through continuous improvement.
The results of the consultation give broad support to the 'States to be Achieved'. Therefore, HSE is unlikely to change the States significantly ahead of the launch.
However opinion is divided on the use of numerical targets and a proposed non-legislative approach. HSE will continue to work to develop an approach which captures both the need for an indicator of performance and promotes continuous improvement.
A paper detailing four improvement model options was presented to the Health and Safety Commission on 07 September 2004. The paper will be posted on the HSE website when available.
HSE will produce guidance for employers and employees (and their representatives) to support the chosen approach. The guidance will seek to address concerns over the sole use of surveys and will suggest additional indicators. HSE is also working in partnership with Health Scotland to develop guidance for SMEs
The Health and Safety Commission will decide upon the final form of the Stress Management Standards ahead of their proposed launch on 3 November 2004.