With work-related illnesses on the rise, health and safety is fast becoming a greater priority for businesses operating within many industries today. However, one safety-focused firm is urging organisations to look beyond what is typically associated with health and safety and ensure that mental health, as well as physical health, is also taken into account.
Midland Pallet Trucks, a provider of materials handling equipment such as hand pallet trucks, drum loaders, and aerial work platforms states that stress and anxiety must also be considered to improve safety.
The advice from Midland Pallet Trucks comes following new HSE statistics which show that the number of people in active employment who suffer with a work-related illness has grown to 1.4 million. However, less than 70,000 of these illnesses are reported under RIDDOR, which suggests that the majority of illnesses do not fall under injury, disease, or dangerous occurrences. While the exact breakdown of illnesses is unknown, it is reasonable to estimate that mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression make up a significant portion of reported health complaints.
“In warehousing especially, there is a definite focus on accidents and injury due to the nature of the working environments, but at a time when workplace illness is on the rise, businesses should not only be looking to improve physical health but mental health too, which can be a cause and effect of poor workplace health and safety,” says Midland Pallet Trucks managing director, Phil Chesworth. “Not only can stress and anxiety be caused by the state of workplace safety, but it itself can also cause physical injury, especially in environments where machinery is commonly used.”
Reports suggest that the number of people suffering with stress, anxiety, and depression is higher than ever. While the figure was believed to have stood at 595,000 in 2017 - 2018, this is understood to have grown to 602,000 for the 2018 - 2019 period. Public service union, Unison claims that stress is one of the biggest causes of workplace illness today, and the HSE confirms that more than 11 million days are lost each and every year as a direct result of work-related feelings of stress and anxiety.
The team at Midland Pallet Trucks puts forward a two-fold approach for businesses looking to minimise the risk of developing physical and mental health conditions as a result of working environments. The team recommends promoting better awareness of mental health and providing an outlet for employees to share their thoughts and feelings, while simultaneously ensuring that workers are offered the most efficient and effective forms of equipment to work with, and are well trained in using these tools.