Mental wellbeing 'left out' of workplace health and safety policies, says safety consultant

Despite increased awareness, construction companies are still failing to recognise the importance of mental wellbeing in their health and safety policies, says safety consultant Paul Makoff-Clark.

Despite the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) finding that 12 million working days were lost due to stress, depression and anxiety in 2015/16. the Kent Safety Solutions managing director has warned that employers are not considering the impact of mental health as part of their procedures,

Makoff-Clark from the quality, health, safety and environmental (QHSE) consultancy explains that although there is a legal requirement for organisations to have health and safety procedures in place, many employers focus just on the safety aspect when implementing policies and carrying out risk assessments.

“Safety controls are relatively straightforward to implement,” he says.
“But mental health is much more difficult to consider from a risk perspective due to the difficulties posed by pre-existing health conditions, less evident risks and potentially longer-term consequences.

“Mental health, particularly stress, is being left out of health and safety processes such as risk assessments. With many credit-crunch roles remaining unfilled and one person taking on additional responsibilities along with time-fixed deadlines so prevalent in many industries, especially construction, work-related stress is responsible for a phenomenal number of days lost due to absence.”

His comments follow the national launch Mental Health Awareness Week which this year focuses on thriving with good mental health.

Makoff-Clark added: “The HSE has excellent – and free – tools for testing and monitoring stress at work, yet these tools are sadly underutilised.

“Sadly, mental health is still not embedded in an organisation’s everyday thinking – it’s just not considered in risk assessments. Very few employers are asking, ‘how do I avoid damaging my employees’ mental health because of workplace stress?’ and they absolutely should be.”

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