Wednesday, September 23, 1998 Published at 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
'Bad management' causes stress
For health workers, stress is a major concern
Bad management is one of the major causes of work-related stress, the second most commonly reported work-related illness.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is issuing leaflets to businesses to advise them how to reduce stress among their employees.
A 1995 survey for the HSE showed half a million people suffered from stress-related ill health which they believe is aggravated or caused by work.
This means stress is second only to musculoskeletal disorders as a reason for staff taking time off work.
Head of the HSE's health directorate, Dr Peter Graham, said poor management was a major cause of stress.
"Dealing with the issue is all about good management. It need not be difficult or costly and can save firms money by making sure that employees are happy, healthy and here," he commented.
The "Help on work-related stress - a short guide" leaflet sets out the main factors that lead to stress at work, outlines employers' legal duties and offers advice on how to conduct risk assessment.
No quick fix solution
The leaflet was produced in conjunction with employers' organisations, the TUC and leading academics and has won an award for using clear English.
Environment Minister Alan Meale said: "The government is rightly concerned about the level of work-related stress and is determined to do something about it.
"But we also recognise that it is a complex issue and that are no 'quick fix' solutions. This booklet is a valuable contribution to tackling the problem."
A recent survey by Industrial Relations Services said sickness absence cost employers around £485 a year per employee.
The TUC says stress costs British industry £5bn a year. It adds that six million working days are lost a year because of the physical and mental effects of stress caused by long hours, shift work, bullying and job insecurity.
A recent TUC survey of health workers showed 68% believed stress was a major concern.
It wants a national code of practice to reduce work-related stress.
The government's recent Green Paper on public health recognises the impact of work on health.
A White Paper setting out targets for improving the nation's health is due to be published shortly.