Health & Safety, An Introduction to


Are you feeling stressed by your work?

Many people argue about the definition and sometimes even the existence of “stress“. However, research has shown that whatever you choose to call it, there is a clear link between poor work organisation and subsequent ill health. HSE has chosen to use the word stress and define it as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them.”

Stress at work can be tackled in the same way as any other risk to health – by identifying the hazards, assessing who is at risk and the level of risk, deciding how to manage the risk and putting the plans into action. Hazards can include: lack of control over the way you do your work, work overload (or underload), lack of support from your managers, conflicting or ambiguous roles, poor relationships with colleagues (including bullying), or poor management of organisational change.

Benefits to tackling stress in your organisation can include increased productivity and efficiency, lower staff turnover and sickness absence, and increased morale.

Does this concern me?

Do you have a high staff turnover, low productivity or low morale? Have you noticed bullying, changes in behaviour, staff working late or increased sickness absence?

Do your employees seem happy to come into work?

Are you aware that there are individual differences in vulnerability to stress and that situations outside work can also affect the ability to cope with excessive pressure at work?

What law applies?

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

How and where you can get more help

‘Work-related stress. A short guide’ INDG281 (rev1) – for small businesses FREE (available in packs of 10 ISBN 0 7176 2112 X £5.00)

‘Tackling work-related stress : A manager’s guide to improving and maintaining employee health and well-being’ HSG218 ISBN 0 7176 2050 6 £7.95 This guide comes with a pack of free leaflets for employees and is aimed at organisations employing 50 or more people.

‘Tackling work-related stress. A guide for employees’ INDG341 FREE (available in packs of 20 ISBN 0 7176 2065 4 £5.00)

Further information can be found on the HSE stress webpages at

You can order any of these titles through HSE Books.

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