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May 12, 2021

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work-related stress

Preventing work-related stress in construction

According to the HSE, stress, depression and anxiety are the second biggest cause of work-related ill health in the construction industry. It is highlighted that the earlier this problem is tackled, the less impact it will have on workers and business. Taking positive action can help to create a more engaged workforce, boost productivity and save money.

HSE Stress in construction2021The HSE’s Preventing work-related stress in construction toolkit is aimed at small businesses with a regular workforce (employed and contracted) who want to start looking at this issue. It also aims to help site managers wanting to identify project-specific issues.

The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’. Workers feel stress when they can’t cope with pressure and other issues, it says. It can affect people differently – what stresses one person may not affect another. Starting the conversation is an important first step in preventing work-related stress. This toolkit aims to help do this.

Acting on work-related stress also helps to address some key aspects relating to mental ill health. The two often go together as work-related stress can aggravate an existing mental health problem, making it more difficult to control. However, they can also exist independently. Mental health is about how one thinks, feels and behaves. Common mental health problems can be caused by things unconnected to work. Some aspects of mental health therefore fall outside of work-related stress and this toolkit. The construction industry has introduced its own wider initiatives to help promote positive mental health and support those in need.

There are six main themes linked to work-related stress. Starting simple and practical conversations in these areas will help to reduce pressure, manage potential stressors and limit the negative impact work might be having on staff. The toolkit outlines how workers should feel in relation to these themes and provides a series of questions to help explore what the issue might be where this is not the case.

It is important to remember that the overall responsibility for managing work-related stress rests with the employer. Employers need to ensure that supervisors or site managers are appropriately supported when tackling this issue.

The toolkit is available here.

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