Work related stress: don’t suffer in silence

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Work related stress: don’t suffer in silence

Work-related stress is widely recognised as one of the main causes of ill health in the workplace, but employer’s attempts at tackling it head on are often under-whelming.

Napo does not have a magic wand that can prevent any issues from arising, but we do have a really good guide you can follow to address any problems when they occur.


Don’t suffer on your own – seek the help of your branch/safety rep.

Use the local support services, such as occupational health, your line manager, or your NPS/CRC health and safety advisor.


Offer support to individuals suffering from stress and check appropriate management and area support are in place.

Talk with members about stress; explain that it is the same as any other health and safety problem such as repetitive strain or manual handling injury.

Encourage members to keep a written record of any problems and send them to management, so that they can’t say they weren’t aware of them.

Stress survey

Conduct a stress survey if stress issues are widespread across the area. It is preferable to do this jointly with your employer as they will then be more likely to take heed of the results. But if this is not possible then conduct a trade union survey – contact Napo HQ or visit for examples of stress surveys.

Safety reps should monitor and evaluate surveys and risk assessments.

Stress risk assessment

Complete individual stress risk assessments as necessary.

Where specific problems of stress are reported for a team, ask for a team stress risk assessment to take place.

Remember that under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committee regulations, safety reps are entitled to be involved in the risk assessment process. They should advise and support members in completing the stress risk assessment.

Ensure real control measures are in place to eliminate the factors that can cause stress.

The assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’ and safety reps can ask for it to be revised if they think it does not meet this standard.


Make sure you have had the training to lead stress risk assessments.


Managers should use return to work interviews to consider the issue of stress and if this is indicated on a medical certificate consider a formal stress risk assessment before return to work takes place.

Raise and record instances of stress and stress-related health symptoms (including on sick certificates)


Have stress as a standing item on the agenda and ensure an effective stress control policy is in place. Use discussions on the committee to ensure the policy and its effectiveness are monitored.

Ensure your employer is using the HSE management standards toolkit correctly –

Analyse sickness and absence data, referrals to occupational health and exit interviews, and stress audits/stress survey results for indications of stress.

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