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TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives

TUC/HSE stress guide

TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives


Work-related stress has been viewed as a major problem by trade unions since the 1980s. It is due in part to the work of unions that stress is now recognised as one of the main ill health concerns in the workplace. Unfortunately while many employers have accepted that stress is a major problem in their workplace, few have an idea how to tackle it effectively.

There is clear guidance available from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which will help organisations identify practical solutions to the problem. This is the Management Standards approach to Work-related Stress.

If implemented properly, the Management Standards could significantly reduce levels of illness caused by work-related stress. That is why the TUC is working with the HSE to publish clear guidance for union health and safety representatives.

It is the TUC view that safety representatives should encourage their employer to implement these standards in their organisation. Although they are not compulsory, there is a requirement on the employer to do a risk assessment that should include stress and, if stress is a problem in your workplace the employer has to take steps to manage it. If your employer chooses not to use the approach contained in the HSE Management Standards they should be made aware that they will still have to have in place a suitable equivalent system for managing work-related stress.

Unions have a major part to play in ensuring that employers take their responsibilities, to tackle work-related stress, seriously. Dealing with stress at work highlights the fact that health and safety is not divorced from the rest of the union’s work activity.

Unions and employers working together to invest in health and safety can result in a vast improvement in other aspects of industrial relations and a working environment in which work-related stress is managed properly.

This guide is designed to help union safety representatives encourage their employer to work with them to implement the HSE Management Standards approach to managing work-related stress. The Management Standards, and the approach were launched in 2004 following extensive development and piloting. They are an effective tool for assisting organisations to identify the causes of work-related stress and implement practical solutions to manage the risks. They are now the main standard in use in the UK. The guide:

  • Gives a background to the problem of stress
  • outlines what the Management Standards are
  • says what you and your employer can do
  • explains the process
  • gives advice on how to build your knowledge
  • tells you where to go for additional information.

Download the full guide as a pdf file

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