A leading health and safety organisation has joined the HSE’s campaign on tackling work-related stress in the agriculture sector.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has become the latest partner on the Working Minds campaign launched a year ago (16 November 2021) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The workplace regulator’s figures show of the 1.7M workers suffering from a work-related illness almost half (822,000) were suffering from stress, depression or anxiety.

HSE’s Working Minds campaign encourages employers to start to tackle work-related stress and to talk to their staff and take steps to support employees with their mental health in the workplace. The agriculture sector is one of the priority sectors that are being targeted by the campaign. 

Cost of mental health

The total annual cost of poor mental health to employers has increased by 25% since 2019, costing UK employers up to £56bn a year – according to a report by Deloitte. Figures show employers can see a return of £5.30 on average for every £1 invested in mental health.

Working Minds encourages employers to promote good mental health in the workplace through collective behaviours and forming habits using the 5 Rs: Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect and make it Routine. Going forward, employers should hold regular catch-ups with workers and their teams.

The campaign has a series of partners who work with HSE to highlight issues around work-place stress and its impact on mental health including the Farm Safety Foundation. With IOSH now signed up it means the number of partners has more than doubled to 19 since Working Minds was launched last year.

Spotting the signs

HSE’s research highlighted that many employers are unaware of their legal duties or how to spot the signs of stress.

In response, Working Minds looked to develop networks to promote the legal duties by encouraging employers and workers across all sectors of the economy to sign up as campaign champions. Its main aim is to raise awareness of stress and the impact it has on mental health of workers and businesses.

The campaign is also recognising the significant milestone of one thousand Working Minds champions as it celebrates its one-year anniversary.

“When we launched Working Minds a year ago, we were under no illusion that stress, anxiety and depression were on the rise in the UK,” says Liz Goodwill, head of the work related stress and mental health policy team at HSE. “Our aim was to ensure psychosocial risks are treated the same as physical ones, that employers recognise their legal duty to prevent work-related stress to support good mental health in the workplace, and that they have the tools they need to achieve this.

“Now, at a time when we have major challenges facing the country – leading to stressors both inside and outside of the workplace – welcoming new partners extends our reach and helps get our messages to businesses. That is why IOSH joining Working Minds is so important – these challenges can only be tackled successfully by working together – as organisations, as businesses, as teams.”