HSENI's role in managing work-related stress/mental well-being

HSENI has a small dedicated team who provide a free and confidential service facilitating a work-related stress/mental well-being risk assessment using the HSE management standards approach within organisations.

How HSENI can help employers

Our small team of mental well-being at work advisors are fully trained in the delivery of stress management programmes.

Our advisors will assist your organisation through every step of the risk assessment process from securing commitment to continuous improvement.

Depending on the needs of your organisation our mental well-being at work advisors can assist with:

  • delivering presentations to all interested  parties on the management standards and process involved
  • providing templates to communicate key aspects of the process to staff
  • advising on the selection of demographics to ensure qualitative data
  • facilitating data collection and focus groups
  • drafting a report with findings and potential solutions
  • providing ongoing assistance throughout a two year period to review implementation of plans
  • delivering awareness seminars to enable your organisation to carry out your own risk assessment

Implementing the management standards in your organisation will:

  • help ensure your organisation’s compliance with the legal requirements where there is a risk of stress
  • allow an assessment of the current situation using surveys and other techniques
  • promote active discussion and working in partnership with employees to help decide on practical improvements that can be made

Our mental well-being at work advisors have no enforcement role, HSENI’s approach to tackling work-related stress and mental well-being is to provide advice, guidance and practical help towards a potential solution.  

Case law has evidenced that industrial tribunals/civil courts look favourably at organisations that have attempted through risk assessment to eliminate, reduce or control these risks.  

To further assist organisations in this process HSENI have developed an awareness seminar, suitable for HR and H&S officers.  The seminar is available free of charge.

What to expect if an inspector calls

A health and safety inspector may visit your organisation to examine the arrangements in place for assessing and controlling risks from work-related pressures or other health and safety at work issues.

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that your organisation has undertaken or plans to complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

Risk assessment

Some key elements of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment are:

  • worker involvement
  • a hazard identification process (which will entail data gathering and analysis)
  • gap analysis
  • solution development

HSE and local authority inspectors recommend following the management standards to assess the risks of work-related stress in your organisation. There is more information about assessing your own approach.

Inspection

Your organisation may be visited by an inspector or team of inspectors. Inspectors may ask to speak to a range of people in your organisation, which may include representatives from:

  • board of directors (chief executive, HR director)
  • health and safety
  • personnel/human resources
  • occupational health
  • recognised trades union/staff-side representatives

We have developed an inspection pack to help inspectors assess whether organisations are taking appropriate action to manage work-related stress effectively. It also explains HSE's policy on investigating complaints about work-related stress.

Management commitment to, and, employee involvement in - the stress risk assessment process are essential. Inspectors will use these two key performance indicators to assess the suitability of your organisation's risk assessment.

At the end of the initial visit, a follow-up visit may be scheduled. Inspectors will agree with you the progress they expect you to have made by the next inspection.

Enforcement

HSENI's approach to tackling work-related stress is to provide advice, guidance and practical help towards a potential solution. It is designed as an easy to follow process which includes supporting guidance, forms and tools to allow any organisation to carry out a mental well-being risk assessment using the management standards.

HSENI may undertake enforcement action, in the form of an improvement notice, where duty holders fail to show sufficient commitment to, or make sufficient progress in, assessing the risks from work-related stressors.  An organisation would be unlikely to be subject to enforcement action by HSENI provided it could demonstrate it had adequately assessed the risks and was taking steps to address any problems identified.

If you would like further advice, guidance or information please contact a mental well-being at work advisor.