Stress Management

What is Stress?

The Health & Safety Executive defines stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them’, which makes an important distinction between ‘pressure’ and ‘stress’.


Difference between ‘Stress’ and ‘Pressure’

Pressure can be a positive state, but only if managed correctly. There are benefits to a reasonable amount of pressure, including stimulation, and motivation.

Whereas work-related stress is the natural but distressing reaction to the demands or pressures of work. Where an individual perceived that they cannot cope with these pressures. Stress can be detrimental to a person’s health. Whilst stress is not a disease or a diagnosable illness. Exposure to excessive amounts of pressure can result in health problems, both physical and mental.


Controlling Stress at Work

Evidence-based methods of Controlling and Preventative Management of Stress are improving the quality of the prevention of ill-health caused by work. These methods enable practitioners to give more sound advice.

The techniques of data appraisal, systematic review, and meta-analysis, and their application to clinical and preventative medicine through clinical guidelines and economic analyses are well established.


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    Legislation regarding Stress

    There is actually no specific legislation on controlling stress at work. This is because not enough is known to set detailed standards or requirements on stress.

    There is a voluntary approved code of practice, The Health and Safety Management Standards, which is a guide for employers on matters of work stress. However, since the Management Standards came into being in 2004, there has been little decrease in work stressors in Britain.


    It is important to note that:


    • Under the Management of Health and Safety Regulations, 1993 employers are obliged to assess the nature and scale of risks to health in their workplace and base their control measures on it


    • HSE advice: The HSE guidance Stress at Work: a Guide for Employers says “Ill-health from workplace stress must be treated the same way as ill-health from other physical hazards. This means that employers have a legal duty to take reasonable care to ensure that employees’ health is not placed at risk through excessive and sustained levels of stress. This can arise from the way workloads are organised, the ways people deal with each other in the workplace, or from the day-to-day demands placed on the workforce”. Employers are expected to take full account of this guidance in their policies and procedures.


    • Working Time Regulations 1996. These regulations limit the working week to an average of 48 hours. However, a member of staff may, under certain circumstances, opt out of these regulations, but they must agree in writing to work more than 48 hours


    • The Equality Act 2010. Stress-related illnesses, such as depression or mental ill-health will, in certain circumstances, secure protection under the Equality Act, including making reasonable adjustments for disabled employees

    Stress Wellbeing Audit

    Acorn Occupational Health can provide anonymous stress/wellbeing audits. These help businesses comply with health and safety regulations and provide insight into any stress issues that your company may have. Following an audit, problem areas may be identified, and a plan can be developed. This plan will help to manage stress in the workplace effectively.

    A comprehensive report will highlight the areas of risk, and we will provide recommendations, in order of priority, to reduce any organisational stress.

    These recommendations may include developing a stress policy on mental health provision and support services. Our team of professionals can help to guide to further.

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