Issue date
25 Jan 2017

The TUC has today (Wednesday) published a new guide – produced with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – to help trade union health and safety representatives tackle workplace stress.

Last year 7 in 10 respondents to a TUC survey of more than 1,000 health and safety representatives identified stress as the top concern in their workplace. As a result the TUC has issued this handbook, which will help union representatives work with employers to find practical solutions to work-related stress.

The guide is based on the HSE ‘management standards’ in handling stress. It breaks down the causes of work-related stress into six key areas:

  • demands: issues like workload, work pattern and environment
  • control: how much say someone has over the way in which they work
  • support: available resources, line management and colleagues
  • relationships: dealing with unacceptable behaviour and promoting positive working
  • role: if the person understands their role at work and does not have conflicting roles
  • change: how organisational change – large or small – is communicated.

The handbook proposes that a group – made up of representatives from across every level of the organisation – gathers information on the current situation in the workplace and carries out a risk assessment based on the HSE standards.

The group can then identify practical proposals for change that could make a real difference, such as tackling a long hours working culture, improving workplace practices or increasing staffing levels.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Workers are increasingly suffering from the effects of workplace stress as pressures of long hours and low job security are taking hold across the UK. But it’s in no-one’s interest to have an overstretched workforce, as anxious staff are less productive and are more likely to take time off. And the HSE standards provide the best way of tackling the issue.

“Union representatives have a key role to play in working with employers to tackle this problem once and for all. Stress is preventable if workers have reasonable workloads, supportive managers and a workplace free from violence, bullying and harassment.

“Anyone worried about their workload or being unfairly treated at work should join a union, to get the support they need and their interests represented at work.”


Notes to Editors:
- The new TUC and HSE guide is available to download

- The findings of the TUC’s health and safety rep survey are available at

More than 1,000 health and safety reps took part.

- All TUC press releases can be found at
- TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews

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