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14th November 2019

The Facts About Work Related Stress

Stress & the workplace - man sat on couch with head in his hand.

The HSE has recently published new guidance with the aim of managing expectations about its likely enforcement response to reports of work-related stress.


The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them’.

Employees obviously feel stress when they can’t cope with pressures and other issues, and it’s a fact that this is a significant cost to businesses, with over 11 million days being lost at work a year because of stress at work.

Mental health issues have increasingly gained more recognition, so whilst the HSE has been quiet on the topic recently, it’s not surprising that it’s receiving frequent complaints from stressed-out staff in external organisations who expect the regulator to step in.

This is an example of why Mental Health remains a priority area for the HSE, and one recent example of this being the HSE’s amendment of its advice to employers on first-aid to include, for the first time, a mention of mental health first aid provision.

How to Tackle Stress

Some key ways to take the issue of stress in your workplace include providing planning, training, and support which can, in turn, reduce pressure and bring affected employees’ stress levels down and this should all form part of your stress risk assessment.

In order to assist our clients in this area, Lighthouse has recently launched a brand new suite of Wellbeing and Mental Health E-learning training programmes alongside our First Aid Training programme, which are available now.

Is Stress Reportable under RIDDOR?

Our H&S advice line often receives this question when a member of staff is signed off with work-related stress.

The HSE has stated that it will investigate if there is a suggestion of a wider organisational problem, relating to stress management within businesses, but that the matter should go through the employer’s internal process first. Only after this process has been completed with sufficient time to resolve the problem might an inspector feel it necessary to investigate.

In many cases there usually has been a breach of an employer’s policy on equality or bullying, so
internal disciplinary processes should be applied in the first instance.

One area where employers can breathe a sigh of relief however, is the HSE have confirmed that stress is not reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). This remains the case even where an employee produces a medical certificate diagnosing that it is work-related. This message was reinforced by the HSE Chair Martin Temple in his keynote speech at a recent IOSH conference, where he maintained that stress would not become reportable under RIDDOR.

If you have any queries on work-related stress or require further support within your organisation, do not hesitate to call our advice line today on 0845 459 1724 or email us at

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