Employee stress - a legal threat to businesses

Article date: 13 January 2003

UK businesses and their directors are increasingly at risk ofprosecution if they do not tackle the issue of stress at work, saysNorwich Union.

Following the latest Trades Union Congress findings about stressand overwork across the country prompting the TUC to call forcompanies to create healthier workplaces - businesses shouldunderstand that they are both losing money and making themselveslegally vulnerable.

Teresa Budworth, training and consultancy manager for NorwichUnion Risk Services, said: "There is a growing pressure from theHealth and Safety Executive to take action against companies whichare not taking the issue of stress at work seriously.

"In addition, stress-related absence is costing the UK economy£370 million per year*. For many businesses, it means that asignificant proportion of their revenue is paying for accidents atwork.

"Tackling this problem begins with businesses accepting thatstress management is one of their key responsibilities, which needsa planned approach.

"This begins with conducting a comprehensive risk assessmentprogramme to identify the present hazards. Then, the business needsto prioritise risks and implement controls to minimise theirexposure.

"Such measures can include improved working methods, physicalprecautions in the case of hazardous environments, training toenhance the competence of staff and an on-going monitoringprogramme."

Media contact:
Jon Clements at Staniforth Communications on 0161 274 0100 or LizKennett at Norwich Union on 08703 666863/07801 901666.

Notes to editors

* Foreword to Health and well-being in the workplace: adirectors' guide, Institute of Directors.

Norwich Union Insurance is the UK's largest insurer with amarket share of around 16% and is more than 1.5 times the size ofits nearest rival. It is also the largest personal linesinsurer.

It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:

  • one in five households
  • one in five motor vehicles
  • more than 700,000 businesses

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