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Co-ord's Stress Seminar Report - 2nd November 2011

Derek Maylor, NW BTU Health & Safety co-ord Chairperson reports on a presentation by Barry Holt, Director of Policy & Research for IIRSM

Barry Holt, the Director of Policy & Research for IIRSM and a highly sought speaker on at safety events round the country, opened the seminar. Barry has been involved in health and safety for many years - providing advice to many organisations including Government agencies. He has worked in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, Asia Pacific, USA as well as Europe, and also former Soviet bloc.

One in seven workers in Britain find their work either extremely or very stressful, also almost half a million workers experience stress at a level which adversely affected their work and approximately twenty per cent of the UK workforce has reported depression or anxiety to their GP. Not only is there a moral case to answer but there is a strong business case to be answered.

Barry produced quotes from various surveys to show that around eleven million working days lost to stress related illness.

He went on to discuss the causational factors that contribute to workplace stress such as the demands of the job, the degree of control, the level of support, constant change to the role etc. There are of course stressors outside work such as the highest ranked which is the death of spouse or trouble with in-laws.

Whilst companies are limited to help on domestic issues they clearly can control issues that contribute to stress within the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to use their initiative and to develop new skills. Employees should be consulted over work patterns and when breaks can be taken.

Barry noted that we need to change the perception that worker admitting to stress is a sign of weakness and a large link in the chain is the relationship between the worker and their manager. Workers must be involved in decision making.

Other guest speakers were, Steve Mann, CWU Health & Safety Dept, Steve Exall, HR, BT Operate and BT Innovate and Design, and Dominic Hemsi, MPH Solicitors whose law firm also sponsors this website.

Workshop sessions were taken by staff from the mental health charity, MIND.

The timetable for the day was as follows:


*         What is workplace stress?
*         How does it work?
*         Impact on productivity
*         Impact on Mental Health
*         Impact on physical health

Exercise 1 Stress Pub Quiz
stress workshop

A Round Table quiz in which teams answer a series of questions relating to the stress (prevalence, impact, legislative position/protection etc)


*     Why is it a “taboo” subject?
*      Difficulty in disclosure
*      The impact of “Presenteeism”

Exercise 2 Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace

Delegates will be asked to identify the components of  a “mentally healthy workplace” in this exercise.

Followed by Feedback and Speaker presentation of example of good practice.

Further reports of the day will be published on this website later this week.

You can provide us with useful feedback in order for us to develope further and better seminars in the future by filling in a short form here Feedback form

You can also take part in the survey we are doing for those who attended the seminar. Take the survey here

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