North West Construction Safety Group
25 Oct 2021

Mental Health in the Workplace

What is mental ill health?

Mental ill health covers a variety of different conditions, ranging from depression, anxiety and stress related disorders to schizophrenia and personality disorder. In the workplace the primary manifestations of mental ill health are anxiety, stress and depression which, although they may not be caused directly by work, are frequently exacerbated by it.

What do we mean by ‘stress’?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines work-related stress as “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work”. A certain level of pressure in a business environment is desirable. Pressure helps to motivate people and boosts their energy and productivity. But when the pressure someone is under becomes too much to cope with, that positive force turns negative and becomes stress. But people can also feel stressed when too few demands are made on them – when they are bored, under-stimulated or feel undervalued. Stress is not technically a medical condition, and most of us can cope with short bursts of stress, but research shows that prolonged stress is linked to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

What you can do to support your staff

The organisations that are leading the way in understanding, identifying and supporting the need for good mental health in the workplace are investing in developing their managers. MHFA training is one way to educate managers and teams to spot the first signs of mental ill health and give them the knowledge and confidence to help colleagues in distress. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards use a risk assessment process to help organisations identify the extent and causes of employees’ work-related stress, and suggest ways that everyone in the organisation can work together to prevent and manage stress more effectively. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Investors in People have also developed a stress management ‘competency indicator’ framework of tools to allow managers to assess whether they currently have the behaviours identified as effective for preventing and reducing stress at work.

Relevant legislation

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA)

Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA)

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Equality Act 2010

Mental Health (Discrimination) Act 2013. (This removed legislative barriers to people with mental health issues being company directors)

08 Nov 2020

NWCSG Offers Charity Support

On behalf of its membership, the Executive Committee of NWCSG is delighted to announce an initiative to support two excellent charities.

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic means that the group is unable to host gatherings, as it strives to comply with Government guidelines and prevent the spread of the virus. Since the pandemic began, back in March, the group has held it’s meetings online using the Zoom platform, and although not ideal, this means that the expenditure associated with hosting our monthly Group and Executive Committee meetings can be committed elsewhere and the Executive Committee has unanimously agreed that all of next years’ membership fees  (April 2021 – March 2022), will be donated to our two chosen charities. These are:

The Lighthouse Charity – a construction industry mental health charity; and

FoodShare – a food bank charity, brought to recent prominence by the good work of Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United and England Footballer

Claire Oakes, Vice Chair of the Group said:

“The sustainability of the Group is of paramount importance to the Committee and we are always looking at ways in which we can provide best value to our membership. However, we felt that next year’s membership fees could be used for the benefit of those that need help during the pandemic. Whilst next year’s membership fees are  not due to be renewed until April 2021, we are asking our members to support this initiative, by paying early.

The annual fee represents excellent value for money and will remain at just £60 for the whole year, from April 2021 to March 2022. This allows members to access to our specialist panel, the members-only area of our website, and attendance at the monthly Zoom meetings, which feature an update from our resident Health and Safety Executive Inspector, and topical talks from construction-based subject matter experts.

Should the group be in a position to host physical gatherings, we will do so as soon as possible and the costs associated with venue hire, etc, will be borne by
existing group funds and therefore, the charitable donation will not be affected.”

Members requiring further information on how the pay their subscriptions early can contact the group via info@nwcsg.org.uk.

 

08 May 2020

NWCSG Enters Virtual World!

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NWCSG held its annual general meeting this week, using the ZOOM virtual conferencing portal.

Over sixty participants attended the session and got the benefit of two excellent talks during what is our most popular annual event.

Madeleine Abas, specialist H&S Solicitor of OAH Law, provided the group with her annual legal update and Phil Strickland, HM Principal Inspector of Health and Safety (Construction), briefed the group on the HSE’s plan of work, recent prosecution case history and what is expected from the construction industry in terms of COVID-19. The event was recorded, so members that weren’t able to make the ‘live’ session can log in and view it again here.

Feedback from the session was very positive, and so plans are already afoot to host our next meeting in the same way. This will take place on 02 June at 14:00 and will feature talks by James Gorry – H&S keynote speaker and Professor Tim Marsh – behavioural safety expert and published author

Pre-registration is required and members wishing to attend can register here.

27 Sep 2018

Do we Really Talk About Safety all the Time?

In the second of our ongoing series of guest blogs, Harry Gallagher of 2Macs Safety, who specialise in the utilisation of engaging training techniques, outlines the importance of securing workforce engagement:

With Health and Safety being high on many organisations’ agendas it is not surprising that people often say to us “We talk about safety all the time”.  It would, therefore, seem redundant for us to keep running programmes about how to have safety conversations if everyone is already having them. 

Scratching a little deeper, however, can reveal just what a lot of those safety conversations are about.  Most safety conversations our trainers encounter onsite are either functional or correctional.  In a nut shell most people either ask about how the job is going (“Is the permit correct? Have you got your method statement?”) or they see something that is not quite right and correct it, (“Put your glasses on mate”).  Now there is nothing wrong in finding out how the job’s going or putting something right, but are we missing a trick here?  Well for a start, how about listening as much as talking?

Very often the people at the sharp end have a wealth of knowledge regarding safety in all areas of the organisation and know of problems or improvements we may never have never have considered.  They may be contractors used to working in many different environments and have been exposed to safety innovations that could enrich our safety culture.

We will never know unless we ask them – and moreover, ask them in the right way.  Our trainers are experts in the field of coaching effective safety conversations and they know that it’s only by fine tuning the communication skills of managers and supervisors we can tap into that rich seam of knowledge that lies below the surface in all organisations. 

Approaching someone in ‘telling’ mode just isn’t good enough anymore. That’s why the best programmes focus on the key skills of Impact and Influence. These are absolutely essential to effectively engage people. And it’s only when people are really and truly engaged that they begin to open up about the knowledge they already possess. And you’d think after all the time we’ve spent at work that everybody would be experts at it by now? Wrong!  Effectively engaging people through a coaching approach is a specific but learnable skill which, in our experience, can be sadly lacking in many organisations. But guess what? As well as being a great one to learn, it’s also great fun to learn – and once you can do it, it will revolutionise your company’s safety performance.

So get your thinking cap on and figure out how you can best engage those that you’re trying to influence!

If you have a story, an experience, or even a view point to share, that relates to health and/or safety, we’d love to hear from you. Please send your blog to info@nwcsg.org.uk and we’ll do our very best to share it!

 

29 Aug 2018

Mental Wellbeing – Are you a Supportive Employer?

In the first of our planned series of guest blogs, Chelsie Gladstone, Health & Safety Advisor at L & W Wilson (Endmoor) Ltd shares her very personal experiences and explains how we could all do more to support those facing mental health issues.

“I am the daughter of a mother who committed suicide so mental well being is a subject that I am all too familiar with and have always been empathetic about. My mother took her own life 28 years ago when I was just 2 years old.

Mental health wasn’t a subject that was widely discussed or understood then and my mother’s mental health was only apparent after the event and the extent only became a realisation once the inquest concluded. It is wonderful to see, as an industry that we are recognising this, still taboo subject, and trying to do more to help those in need.

Some days in work my phone can be non-stop. I can feel like Dear Dierdre occasionally, listening to personal issues, work issues etc. Do I mind? Absolutely not! I would rather take the calls, be that person to listen, advise, help! Doing whatever I or as a business, we possibly can! 

We have currently got an employee who suffers from severe depression and anxiety. This employee is one of our top performers. We don’t and can’t rely upon him, we just ride with him. He may be in one week and not the next. Some people would ask why do we bother and persist with his employment? It’s because we want to! He explains that some days he will get up, shower, get changed have breakfast and gets to the front door and just cannot physically leave. Other days he comes in and is one of the happiest employees we have, the usual mental health signs! We make sure we accommodate what he is happy with, his work time, the people he works with!

This is an illness he has battled with from a young age. An illness where he has had Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), various medications, appointment after appointment but ultimately an illness where he has battled with people who don’t understand. Whilst we are running a business, who are we to say that this employee can’t work if he wants too?! There will certainly be no benefit in terminating his employment that won’t help him or us. It would also add a financial burden to his already existing issues.  Whilst he and his Doctor are happy with our mutual agreement, then we are all happy! We will continue to monitor each and every one of our employees and make the necessary adjustments where required.

As we know mental health doesn’t look unwell does it?! We would hold a door open for someone in a wheelchair!

I may be a ‘suicide’ daughter but I will always be a mental health friend! I was too little to understand and know what I do now…. I couldn’t help then, I didn’t know how to listen or what to say!

I am great believer in people both personally and professionally; Be Kind! Be there! Listen!”

If you have a story, an experience, or even a view point to share, that relates to health and/or safety, we’d love to hear from you. Please send your blog to info@nwcsg.org.uk and we’ll do our very best to share it!

18 Apr 2018

Safety Alert – Cylinders manufactured from aluminium alloys HE30/AA6082 and AA6351 and used primarily for gases for underwater breathing apparatus

There have been several recent catastrophic failures of aluminium cylinders used primarily to contain gases for underwater breathing apparatus and manufactured from aluminium alloys HE30/AA6082 and AA6351. These cylinders should only be used if they have undergone thorough visual inspection and testing with an eddy-current device by a competent inspector.
Failure to conduct such inspection and testing could result in serious harm.

PLEASE NOTE !

Covid19 – Our awards event scheduled for tonight WILL go ahead as planned!!

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