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December 6, 2021

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Mental Health

HSE publishes guidance on responding to suicide and grief in the workplace

The HSE has published a document, which points out that employers have a duty of care to workers and to ensuring their health, safety and welfare. HSE promotes action that prevents or tackles any risks to worker’s physical and mental health, for example due to work-related stress. 

HSE-logoThese risks can lead to physical and/or mental ill health and, potentially, suicidal ideation, intent and behaviour. As an employer, there are things you can do to reduce the risk of work contributing to the causes of suicide. 

Suicide is a major cause of premature death in Great Britain. However, suicides are preventable with appropriate interventions, says HSE. 

Work factors

Many suicides are impulsive moments of crisis associated with significant life events. For example, people struggling with isolation, relationship breakdown, financial problems or work pressures. It can also be linked to pre-existing mental health conditions. 

Work-related factors may contribute to feelings of humiliation or isolation. An issue or combination of issues such as job insecurity, discrimination, work stressors and bullying may play their part in people becoming suicidal. 

The document gives advice on managing the risk, for example: 

  • Be flexible with working hours 
  • Allow workers time for counselling or medical appointments 
  • Allow them time to get other advice, for example from solicitors 
  • Direct workers to appropriate help, for example from their GP or an employee assistance programme (EAP) 
  • Identify other sources of potential help 
  • Supporting workers who may be suicidal: encourage them to seek help from their GP, EAP, the Samaritans or to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Signs that someone is struggling are suggested
  • Supporting workers after an incident. 

RIDDOR

The document also stresses that suicides in the workplace are not RIDDOR reportable as the regulations only require you to report a death from a workplace accident. 

For access to the HSE’s ‘Grief in the workplace: Responding to suicide – A guide for employers’ document, click here.

Click here for a selection of suicide helplines.


Work-related stress podcast

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Peter Kelly, Senior Psychologist for the Health and Safety Executive about work-related stress.

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