Health and Safety Executive (HSE) view is that more needs to be done to protect Britain’s truckers from work-related stress.
Long hours away from home, demanding delivery times and limited access to toilets and showers are common causes of stress for drivers.
As part of the campaign, when safe to do so, drivers can text “BeAMate” for free confidential health support 24/7 – a service provided by Working Minds campaign partner, Mates in Mind.
Material and advice from the Working Minds campaign for drivers and employers can be found here.
Mental health charity Mind revealed 30 per cent of work-related illness in the transport and logistics sector is due to stress, depression, and anxiety. One in four HGV drivers will experience mental health issues at some point throughout the year.*
Talking about mental health can be a struggle for many people, especially men, who make up 80 per cent of our industry’s workforce. Due to the stigma surrounding mental health, 95 per cent of workers calling in sick due to stress give a different reason to their manager. Mind also reports that 22 per cent of workers have been diagnosed with a mental health problem, but less than half have told their manager.*
Elizabeth Goodwill, from the HSE’s Stress and Mental Health Policy Team said: “HGV drivers keep the country and our economy moving. It’s therefore vital employers meet their legal duty to ensure risks of stress and mental ill health are factored into risk assessments.
“Initiatives such as ‘BeAMate’ are helpful for people needing individual help, but we would like to see more focus on preventing work-related stress at an organisational level, to stop it developing into poor mental health. We look forward to working with the Road Haulage Association and Mates in Mind to provide employers with the help they need to protect and support drivers.
Michelle Upson, a lorry driver who has been in the industry for more than three decades said: “I’d say there is a mental health problem in the industry. Especially for the guys up the road all week and without their families – it is a lot tougher for them.
“Most of the workforce is men and the age demographic is still high. I think they are less likely to talk about their mental health problems so promoting it is a good thing.”
HSE and the Working Minds campaign warns that the scale of work-related stress across the economy has increased in recent years. Stress, depression or anxiety is now the number one cause of work-related ill-health in Great Britain.
Within the transportation and storage sector as a whole (which includes road haulage), around four in ten cases of work-related ill-health are due to stress, depression or anxiety.
Text “BeAMate”: If you or someone you know needs help or support, you can use our “BeAMate” text support service. To use the service, simply text “BeAMate” to 85258 and trained volunteers can help with issues including anxiety, stress, loneliness or depression and are available 24/7.
Contact us for further advice.
Focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, we will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.
Follow help and advice on social media
Keep up with the latest on this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week.
Order a green ribbon – here.
Make a donation to the mental health foundation – here.
Contact us if you require further information.
Contact us if you require health and safety advice.
Here are three simple steps you can use anytime and anywhere to give yourself a boost and build your compassion for others.
By tuning in to your feelings, looking for what’s good and sharing kindness you can nurture yourself and help make things better day by day.
Please give it a try and, if you find it helpful, share it with others too.
Follow these useful links for further information.
Even with rigorous health and safety procedures, the construction sector is notorious for health issues, serious injuries and perilous fatalities.
Physical health and safety are paramount in jobs sectors like construction and manual labour. Given the numbers of serious injuries (and deaths) that occur, occupational accidents increase without proper support and guidance.
The Chartered Institute of Building reported that 26% of construction workers had suicidal thoughts and 97% experienced work-related stress.
Without support, recognition, and even hope, employees still continue to battle with invisible disabilities, like mental health.
Discover how employers can support staff who are suffering from mental health in the workplace And see what steps and guidance is needed for dangerous job sectors like construction.
What is workplace mental health?
Physical injuries or serious accidents in the workplace always come with risk assessment and management strategies. ‘How to apply immediate care’ or ‘how to eliminate the root cause’– businesses will spend thousands on implementing these legal and moral obligations.
But when it comes to workplace mental health, less is done to identify issues (let alone handle them). Nearly 70 million workdays are lost every year because of mental health issues – costing the UK economy £2.4 billion annually – (according to Mentalhealth).
But we need to look beyond the numbers and focus more on individual cases – especially in the construction industry. Taking full care of your staff leads to a happier workplace, efficient production, legal compliance, and overall wellbeing security.
Employers’ duty for employee mental health
It’s normal for construction industries to prioritise ‘health and safety’. This job sector is regrettably notorious when it comes to work-related accidents and injuries.
But the biggest concerns that employers had, were ensuring injuries weren’t long-lasting or physically impairing.
But this is only half of an employer’s lawful obligation. Staff wellbeing is a legal duty of care, under the Health and Safety at Work, etc (1974).
The act places a duty on all employers to, ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work’ of all employees and non-workers found on their work premises.
In recent times, the conversation on mental health has become more public and inclusive. From athletes becoming ambassadors to creating conversations in our classrooms, mental health is no longer an invisible condition.
How to supportive mental health in the construction industry?
One of the most significant steps to take when supporting construction workers is concentrating on physical and mental health in the workplace.
Here are steps for building a supportive culture in a construction workplace:
Track mental health
From bullet journals to employee assistance programmes, ask your staff to track their mental health state. This can be done through five-minute app quizzes, or actively filling in mood trackers.
This data can be collated daily or once a week. But ultimately, all parties will recognise staff wellbeing and where further support might be needed.
Interactive training and services
Introduce training sessions, courses, and services where employees can gain information and support for mental health.
Through interactive methods, you can raise awareness and create safe spaces for conversations. And employees can share ways to control triggers and how to manage it through everyday living.
Train your management
Some of the most effective daily support comes from direct managers and supervisors. Walker Health and Safety Services can support you with your training needs.
Your management will likely have a better understanding and sense when their team-members are not feeling like themselves. Whether it’s a work issue or a personal problem, managers are sometimes the first to pick up on the atmosphere.
Utilise this by providing mental health training and coaching for your management. And teach them to discover the roots to problems; or manage it with the right tools. You could even train a qualified employee to stand as a mental health first aider.
Grow positive mental wellbeing
As an employer it’s your responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace environment. When it comes to mental health issues, look out for signs, educate your staff, and raise awareness.
You’ll likely still face mental health incidents, and some may go on undetected. But deal with them through your mental health policies and procedures as soon as you’re aware.
Mental health awareness is just an important obligation as legal compliance and hazard awareness. By caring for your staff on all levels, you’ll hold a secure workspace for your staff – and grow positive mental wellbeing.
Contact us for further information.
Guest Blog – David McDermott
Rough, boisterous play or pranks in the workplace can have serious consequences. We look at key cases involving practical jokes at work and offer tips on how to prevent horseplay.
What is horse play?
Playing around, racing, grabbing, thoughtless vehicle operation, social pressure, harassment, and unauthorised contests are activities often encouraged by ‘practical jokers’ who pressure other colleagues to get involved. Playing jokes and having fun with colleagues can break up the day, provide stress-relief and make work more interesting, however horseplay can take this too far and put workers at risk.
Cases involving horseplay are common in industrial workplaces such as construction sites, and often where forklift trucks are used. But other cases have included pharmacies, hospitals and offices where pranks such as pulling out a chair has resulted in injury. Regardless of the sector, it is management’s responsibility to ensure all employees have access to a safe, respectful and harassment-free place to work.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 does not specifically discuss horseplay but does make requirements for employees regarding health and safety.
Section 7 of the Act requires employees to ‘take reasonable care for the health and safety of himself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work’.
Section 8 requires that no person shall intentionally interfere or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety, and welfare. These duties extend to avoiding silly or reckless behaviour, and those who fail to comply with these duties may make themselves liable to be prosecuted.
However, acts that are not directly related to work, and are more of a personal nature will not be within scope, such as an employee assaulting a supervisor because he believed the supervisor had stolen his wallet.
It is most likely that employees will be prosecuted under section 7 where they have shown a reckless disregard for health and safety, and such disregard has resulted in serious risk.
Who is responsible?
It is a common misconception among employees that health and safety is the sole responsibility of the employer and if an accident or incident were to occur due to horseplay, that resulted in the injury of another person, it would be the employer that would have full responsibility. However, pranks at work that injure or threaten to injure another person may be the subject for individual prosecution against the person responsible. The law of vicarious liability has been steadily expanding, but there are areas where responsibility is still unlikely to arise on the part of the employer.
Last month IOSH magazine reported on Chell v Tarmac  EWHC 2613, the latest decision to demonstrate that it will be difficult for an employee to succeed where they have been the victim of a practical joke played on them by a colleague.
Employers cannot rule out that horseplay at work can result in injury and there are cases where they can be held liable for the actions of their employees. To help prevent this, they need to have appropriate policies and procedures in place relating to horseplay that informs employees of the consequences of inappropriate behaviour at work and set out clearly what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
Tips to prevent horse play.
• not engage or participate in any type of unsafe behaviour or horseplay, initiate it, or get pressured into participating in it.
• follow all regulations and work rules to ensure the safety of individuals or other employees.
• ensure protective equipment is used properly and operating machinery is in good repair and does not present a hazard.
• report those behaving in an unprofessional or unsafe way to a supervisor or manager.
• provide a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.
• take all precautions necessary to protect the safety and health of employees.
• outline policies against workplace horseplay in your employee manual
• educate and train employees on workplace safety.
• be an example of professionalism and not engage in any inappropriate behaviour or horseplay.
Contact us if you require further information.