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Transcript: New work-related stress website

Transcript of March 2009 podcast.

You are listening to the HSE Podcast. The HSE protects people's health and safety at work.

Welcome to this addition of the HSE Podcast. In this episode we met up with Doctor Sayeed Khan HSE Board Member and Chief Medical Advisor to the EEF to find about the benefits of tackling workplace stress and some of the features of the recently re-launched HSE's stress at work website.

Employers and Managers might be surprised to learn that actually the relationship that they have with their employee is by far and away the most important aspect of trying to reduce stress at work. People think that things like the physical environment and maybe the equipment you work with is important, they are but they are nowhere near as important as how you get on with your manager and how you get on with your colleagues.

We will also hear from Judith Donovan a non-executive member of the HSE Board on farmer's reactions to a new agriculture health and safety campaign.

And HSE's info line Victoria Brady provides some answers to one of your most popular health and safety questions. This time we ask how do I write a risk assessment.

But first here is a round up of the latest health and safety news.

February 2009 saw the launch of HSE's second shattered lives campaign aiming to reduce slips trips and falls at work.

There is new advice and guidance for schools and colleges and hospitals. We have also launched two on-line tools to help you identify and reduce risks from slips, trips and falls in your workplace. Visit the Shattered Lives website for more information.

Thirty-eight people died whilst working on property refurbishment last year that is the message HSE is aiming to get across to property developers.

The new website makes it clear if you are developing property that you don't intend to live in then it is likely that you have legal duties and responsibilities under health and safety law. The website provides simple step-by-step advice to comply with those laws.

For links to these HSE websites and other issues covered in this episode view the transcript at hse.gov.uk/podcasts.

You can stay up to date with the latest news and updates from the HSE by visiting the news pages of our website at news.hse.gov.uk

If you would rather get the latest news by e-mail then sign up for free regular eBulletins on a range of different health and safety subjects. Sign up at hse.gov.uk/news/subscribe/index.htm

Now how is your relationship with your boss?  It is perhaps the most important factor when reducing levels of stress at work. HSE's Doctor Syeed Khan recently spoke to our reporter Stephanie Power about just how crucial that employer worker relationship is when tackling occupational stress.

The stress management workshop is just on the right just here and you have got another fifteen minutes so you don't have to get too stressed about it.

Hi I am Sayeed Khan I am Chief Medical Advisor of EEF and Board Member of HSE

So today you have been talking about stress at work and how to try and get employers and managers to realise that it is worth bothering about. How do you encourage managers to think that stress is worth bothering with?

Stress is worth bothering with particularly in climates like these when we have all sorts of problems with redundancies and keeping work going, because partly to help those who are staying in work maintain their performance, and partly to help the organisation be able to carry on through and continue in to the future. It is worthwhile having employers realise that the health element can be the one thing that keeps them in business rather than for them to lose their business.

You were showing some slides earlier and one of the things that really surprised me was that one of the most important things for people at work is a good relationship with their boss. So if bosses just knew that then maybe that would help kind of reduce some of the stresses at work.

Employers and managers might be surprised to learn that actually the relationship that they have with their employee is by far and away the most important aspect of trying to reduce stress at work. People think that things like the physical environment and maybe the equipment you work with is important, they are but they are nowhere near as important as how you get on with your manager and how you get on with your colleagues.

Now you are also on the board of the Health and Safety Executive and they are just releasing a new stress at work website.

Yes the HSE is producing a brand new website looking at stress. Now as an occupational physician and a member of the board, this is great because it brings together all the various bits and pieces that was good on our website in the HSE into one simple area so that whether you a director or a manager, HR or an employee you can find what you need on that website.

What would you say is the kind of most exciting thing about this new website?

The most exciting thing to me about this website is a fantastic assessment of how you as a manager are doing, whether you are good at coping with stress in employees or not so good and there is a nice tick box thing that you can fill in yourself and get a result straight away. And the other thing is that the risk assessment of stress and as we call it the stress management standard, which is risk assessing stress, is all there. So everything you need to know about being able to assess the risk of stress in the workplace is on this website now.

Visit the transcript for this podcast episode at hse.gov.uk/podcasts for more information about the new HSE stress website.

In January 2009 HSE launched ‘make the promise come home safe'. A hard hitting campaign targeting farmers and their families. Judith Donovan HSE's Agriculture Champion and non-executive board member recently talked about the success of the campaign.

I am Judith Donovan I am a non-executive director on the Board of the Health and Safety Executive and the Champion for Agriculture. Our campaign Make the Promise is an attempt to reduce the death amongst British farmers. In the last twenty years death amongst British farmers has not gone down whilst every other industry has got safer, so we feel that we had to do something different to get the message across. The campaign has a number of elements. There has been an advertising campaign in all the farmer's magazines, there has been a mail shot to over seventy thousand farmers, there has been a website that has been major PR activity and they have all focused on the same core campaign message, which is to make the promise to come home safe. I would sleep more easily if we had even one less death as a result of this campaign, but in the short term obviously we are very keen for farmers to have more awareness of the major causes of deaths on farms and also we would like farmers to start talking to each other about the campaign and the messages. The campaign has been incredibly well received in the farming community. We have had nearly seven thousand farmers who have responded to us directly asking for more information on the main causes of deaths. We have had a number of blogs were younger farmers have actually been saying “you know they're right really and sometimes we do take too many risks”, and we have had some very positive media coverage as well. And indeed our partners in the campaign The National Farmers Union and Unite the Union are both absolutely thrilled as well with the level of impact. This campaign is different to anything HSE has done before because instead of focusing on the incident i.e. the accident it is focused on the victim i.e. the farmer. This is a campaign about people and its talking to people as people and its talking to farmers in particular as members of communities and members of families, so it is a very emotionally based proposition. There is always some people who will criticise a campaign and some farmers have said the money would be better spent on such as running safety seminars around the country. Well we do that as well this campaign is just one of a number of aspects but anybody who criticises it I would say just look at the phenomenal response we have had of farmers talking about it, reacting to it, asking for more information. This campaign has got through in the way that no other campaign done by the HSE in the last twenty years has. The next step for the campaign is to evaluate the work that we have done in the last three months and see what have been the real winners so that we can put some more money behind them later in the year for a second push. I have a commitment from my board that this will be a two year programme and the money is there to carry on intervening until we can make a difference to how many farmers are dying.

Find out more about HSE's Agriculture Campaign by visiting the HSE website. If you are a farmer you can sign up to make the promise and receive a free campaign pack. Visit the transcript for this podcast episode at hse.gov.uk/podcasts

Now in our regular feature we put HSE infoline's Victoria Brady to the test when we asked her to answer one of your popular health and safety questions, what is a risk assessment and how do I write one?

Good afternoon HSE's info-line Andrew speaking how can I help?

Hi my name is Victoria Brady I am the training manager here at HSE's  info-line and I am going to answer all your health and safety questions for you.

“What is a risk assessment and why do they have to be filled in”?

A risk assessment is just really an assessment of your workplace to make sure that there are no potential hazards that could cause any injuries to any person. So it is just matter really of identifying any potential hazard, I mean for example in an office it could be as much as a trailing cable and once you have identified that sort of hazard then you need to put in place something which is going to protect them. So in theory I could certainly trip over that cable but if I have put cable tidy over the top of it or I put the cable running underneath the floorboards then I am not going to have that risk. So it is really just about identifying what could potentially harm somebody and then putting in place measures to protect people.

Okay so what is the process for filling in a risk assessment or working out whether there is a risk at work?

Actually it is a pretty simple process I think people see it as being quiet difficult but it is just a matter really of following the five steps that the HSE set down. So initially I mean identify the hazard, so like we said there is a cable in the middle of the room, and decide who might be harmed, or if the cable is in the middle of the room and I am going to walk passed it is going to be me. Evaluate the risk and decide on precautions, so I am going to decide that the easiest and the cost free thing to do is just to put a cable tidy over the top of it, and then once that is done just make sure that you record the findings and then update those that risk assessment on a regular basis. It really is you know a commonsense approach to health and safety in just making sure that any potential risk within the workplace is dealt with.

What is the point of these risk assessments. I can see what you are saying about the cables and that sort of seems fairly obvious but often employees think that these risk assessments are just a you know a pain and a paper filling exercise for you know no real reason.

I mean at the end of the day like I said I think you have got to take a sensible look at it. I mean you don't necessarily need to do a risk assessment every time you go out. One risk assessment can be done as a generic risk assessment and that could be used every time you complete that activity, so one doesn't really need to be done every time you do it. You know I think the public would be the first to say you know if something happened if for example a carer went out to a home and was injured or something of that nature I think the public would be the first to say well why wasn't something done. Well if the risk assessment was done initially then obviously that sort of prevents things like that from happening. So I think they are vital in the workplace.

So what you are sort of saying really that they are just it is about making people aware that they need to be responsible for themselves and the people around them

Yes I think so I think that is exactly yes

We will be putting Victoria to the test with another question next time.

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Updated 2015-10-06