Stress & Wellbeing

Why "health" is of equal importance to "safety" but often overlooked.

The “health” element of H&S is often relegated to a poor second place.  Safety – risk assessments, method statements, inspections, equipment testing, fire safety – preoccupies those involved in protecting their workforce and anyone else affected by their activities.

But health must not be overlooked.  Caring for workers’ health is as much a part of the Business owners’/Directors’ responsibilities as looking after their safety.

Currently, there are 1.7 million workers suffering from work-related ill health (new or longstanding).  Of these, 50% are suffering from stress, depression or anxiety, 28% from musculoskeletal disorders (often caused by manual handling injuries) and 22% from other types of illnesses such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and other diseases.

If work is causing ill health, it is the Business owners’/Directors’ responsibility to manage the situation.  First, the cases of ill health must be investigated and, second, steps must be put in place to prevent any ill health occurring in the future.

It is not right for a person to have their health adversely affected by their work.  This section will set out what you must do to ensure “health” has equal billing with “safety”.


  • Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013
  • Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2005
  • Etc

Frequently asked questions

Talk to them! Look at the accident and near miss records. Ensure you have good HR provision in place. Set up work forums to discuss wellbeing. Give everyone the opportunity to articulate any worries they have, anonymously if necessary. Nominate and train some Mental Health First Aiders. Read up on stress at work. Consider providing an occupational health facility. Read and understand this section of the guide.  

There is a legal requirement for organisations to write a stress at work risk assessment. This means identifying what, in your workplace, causes stress. You must then write the controls you will be putting in place to reduce the likelihood of stress occurring and to minimise the effects of stress on your workers.