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Former construction company directors sentenced for failing to prevent exposure to asbestos

Two former company directors have been sentenced and fined after a refurbishment project at a former department store was found to have disturbed asbestos containing materials (ACMs) while demolition work was still taking place.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that during October 2017, the former Joplings Department Store in Sunderland was undergoing refurbishment when workers disturbed large quantities of asbestos.

Following a reported concern regarding unsafe construction work at the site, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that demolition and stripping work had been carried out inside the property. The age of the building and previous refurbishment work meant that there were vast quantities of ACMs inside the building.

During several months of demolition and refurbishment work the ACMs had been broken up using sledgehammers and brute force. Asbestos fibres were spread across five floors of the building as well as outside of the city centre property. At the time of HSE’s intervention, 1,315 square metres of contaminated waste was found across the shop floors and in the stairwell.

Former director of Keebar Construction, Alan Barraclough, of Hutton Lane, Guisborough was found guilty of breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc. He received a 14-month sentence, suspended for 2 years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community work within 12 months. He was suspended as a director for 10 years and ordered to pay costs of £44,774.21.

Former director of Keebar Construction, James Keegan, of Larkspur Road, Middlesbrough was also found guilty of breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc. He also received a 14-month sentence, suspended for 2 years, and ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid community work within 12 months. He was suspended as a director for 10 years and ordered to pay costs of £44,774.21.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Phil Chester, said: “Asbestos is responsible for the premature deaths of over 5,000 people each year. Younger people, if routinely exposed to asbestos fibres are, over time, at greater risk of developing asbestos-related disease than older workers. This is due to the time it takes for the body to develop symptoms after exposure to asbestos.

“Exposure to asbestos can cause four main diseases – Mesothelioma (a cancer of the lining of the lungs), asbestos-related lung cancer, Asbestosis (a scarring of the lungs); and Diffuse pleural thickening (a thickening of the membrane surrounding the lungs, which can restrict lung expansion leading to breathlessness).

“It can take anywhere between 15-60 years for any symptoms to develop after exposure. Companies need to recognise the dangers of removing asbestos without appropriate safety measures, to their employees and members of the public.”

How to support the mental health of employees that work remotely

By Tanya Woolf, Head of Psychological Services at Onebright

Remote working has presented challenges for companies of all sizes. Regardless of the size of a company, one thing that remains true is that fostering connection and camaraderie remains key to a healthy and productive working environment, especially with workforces more evenly split between the office and home. For those who need to work remotely, random office chats are missed out on, which can often result in a distinct feeling of loneliness and a struggle to maintain motivation at a distance.

This makes regular mental health check-ins more critical than ever before. When workers feel psychologically safe to express their emotions no matter where they are working from, it will help to set a cultural foundation that will encourage and motivate them to perform to the best of their ability, as well as creating a happier and more productive workplace culture.

Not only will this benefit the mental wellbeing of your workforce, but it can also have a notable financial impact on your business. For every £1 spent supporting the mental health of your workers, you will get £5 back on your investment on average in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

What signs of loneliness do I need to look out for?

Withdrawing from interaction

When an employee begins to withdraw from consistent interaction, this is the first clear sign that they are beginning to struggle, perhaps feeling isolated or lonely. If a remote worker suddenly stops offering suggestions or participating in goal setting, they might be feeling disconnected from the team.

Missing deadlines

If a usually dependable team member starts turning in sloppy work or begins missing deadlines when working remotely, this is another good indication that they may be beginning to experience difficulties, which may include feeling disconnected or lonely.

How can I best support my remote employees?

Consistent communication

That first step that you can as an employer to help support the mental health of those working remotely is to put processes in place that facilitate meaningful, consistent communication. This can be difficult, given that it is unlikely that you will see every employee every day, especially those working remotely.

This is where signs of an employee struggling can fly under the radar for a long time. However, when managers can demonstrate their awareness and understanding of how commonplace conditions such as anxiety and depression can be, this can remove part of the stress of trying to hide the problem on those occasions when someone checks in. It may feel uncomfortable at first and even more unfamiliar in a virtual setting. Still, leaders who can talk about and show a broad spectrum of emotions are role models for healthy behaviours.

Mental health awareness training

Undertaking mental health awareness training will help to equip you with the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, their teams, and colleagues. As our working situations evolve, so do expectations of how employers should support their people. Employers who seek guidance from mental health experts are better able to meet the demands of the modern employee. 

Mindfulness training

Mindfulness is a state of heightened awareness of yourself, your environment, and other people. Being mindful means you are very aware of your thoughts and feelings, but you do not react or judge them. One study has measured the relationship between mindfulness amongst management teams and their employees; it showed that as mindfulness increased, employee work-related stress improved work-life balance and enhanced engagement. 

Online mental health therapy

Finally, with waiting times for public mental health services at an all-time high, business leaders should look to provide their workforces with the option of easily accessible, online mental health therapy services as a fast and efficient first step to help those who need support.

Recent studies have found that when combined with clinical care, online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can effectively treat depression, anxiety, and emotional distress, whilst many other studies have also demonstrated that online CBT is equally as effective at reducing the severity of depression symptoms as in-person CBT.

WEBINAR REWIND: Burnout Behind the Scenes – Health & Safety Practitioners Under Pressure

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s insightful RiskPal webinar addressing the hidden signs of burnout – you can rewatch the entire session on-demand!

The pandemic started as a whirlwind before evolving into a long-drawn-out storm. For many companies, Health & Safety practitioners became the first point of contact for the provision of advice, risk assessments and response, dramatically increasing their workload and stress. The two-year pandemic elevated the importance of Health and Safety to the forefront of business resilience and staff health. Ironically, this has meant that Health & Safety people have been under enormous emotional and physical pressure to keep their businesses going, often at the cost of their own wellbeing.

The webinar features IOSH President Louise Hosking, Ruth Denyer (Co-President of IIRSM), and Michael Byrne (Group Head of Health & Safety at News UK), reflecting on the experiences of the sector and identify unresolved issues. Most importantly it focuses on realistic solutions organisations have adopted to manage burnout amongst Health & Safety practitioners.

For more information, visit www.riskpal.com, or email info@riskpal.com.

You can watch the entire session again below:

Prioritising safety in the loading bay

Employee safety is paramount in every industry. For logistics operations juggling unprecedented customer demand with significant numbers of new employees, safety is now a major business issue – especially in high-risk areas such as the loading bay. 

According to Great Britain’s health and safety body, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), there are 13 fatalities and 26,000 non-fatal injuries per year within the UK transportation and storage industry. And with a high percentage of accidents happening in or around the loading bay, it is considered one of the most dangerous areas.

As Wouter Satijn, Sales Director at Joloda Hydraroll, explains, continually reviewing, improving and implementing the best working practices, while also promoting employee well-being, is the key to optimising logistics operations and getting more goods on the road...

Escalating Safety Concerns

The transportation sector has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. Consumer demand has accelerated across industries, with world trade in goods and services amounting to US $22 trillion in 2020.  At the heart of every logistics operation lies the loading bay. As thousands of new logistics drivers and packers take up newly created roles to keep up with demands, it’s more important than ever for employers to understand the challenges involved in logistics and in the safe loading and unloading of goods.

Of course, this is a highly regulated industry: logistics operations must adhere to strict health and safety regulations. But a good working environment is also key to employee morale, which is a crucial factor in retention. With higher than usual levels of staff turnover, ensuring everyone understands the dangers is vital.  This is especially important in working environments using heavy machinery to move large packages and products, or where hazardous materials are being unloaded or loaded. Accidents can easily happen, especially in the loading bay – so how can businesses identify and mitigate these risks?

What are the Risks?

The economic cost of workplace injury is estimated at more than £800m. The challenge for logistics operations is the diversity of both the risks and causes of injury. For example, falls off the edge of the dock can be a result of slippery floors, a lack of removable barriers or distractions. Heavy machinery can fall forward if wheels are not properly chocked. And poor communication from drivers – or engines left on during the loading process – can also lead to injury. In addition, these procedural errors can create other dangers, such as gaps opening between vehicles and loading bays.

Organisations can overcome these risks by implementing robust safety practices across the loading area – and the first place to start is identifying dangers.

Risk Analysis

A comprehensive risk analysis is essential. Indeed it is a legal requirement. This robust process should determine the specific threats within the organisation’s loading bay(s). Taking a walk around the space and considering what employees will be doing day-to-day can quickly highlight potential dangers. Are floors kept clear? Are there any overhead electric cables and, if so, is there any risk of a chance touch or electricity jumping to ‘earth’ through machinery, loads, or people?

It is also important to review recent health and safety incidents to identify particular problems that are occurring. This helps to understand the risks from an employee perspective. What tasks are they struggling to complete safely? Are the same injuries occurring frequently? Forklift truck usage is one area of particular concern – on average, they are involved in about a quarter of all workplace transport accidents. 

Having determined current safety issues, the next step is to introduce appropriate mechanical solutions for safety, warning signs, training, and electrical safety.

Automated Loading Systems 

With so many injuries caused by the use of equipment such as forklift trucks, it is well worth considering the role loading systems can play in improving workforce safety. Automated loading systems are built to speed up a standard process that happens in every production and warehousing location – the 45 minutes it takes to unload using a forklift takes under five minutes with an automated system. By removing the use of forklifts, companies immediately reduce the risk to employees, improving safety.

Adding further automation will also significantly improve both efficiency and employee well-being. By connecting the entire auto-loading docks and unloading docks to a conveyor or autonomous guided vehicles (AGV), the complete loading procedure can be de-manned. This 100% automation is, by default, far safer as no manual intervention is required.

Safety Starts with Employees

Human error is one of the main causes of injury in loading bays and other areas of logistics facilities. Indeed, one employee’s mistake can make the entire environment unsafe. To avoid injury, organisations must provide staff with the right training, including the correct use of equipment and safe behaviour.

Regular training and education for employees working within the loading bay should cover a range of issues. This includes the prevention of chronic or acute injury through incorrect lifting methods; the correct way to secure cargo when loading; and the safe removal of secured cargo when unloading the truck.

Good signage is also important to support employees as they move around the loading bay. For example, marking ‘danger zones’ ensures individuals know where to go, such as avoiding loading dock edges. Signage helps to direct traffic flow correctly, too. Additional signage reminding drivers to turn off engines is key to avoid the build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide in the loading bay area. Providing weight rating signs on each element of the loading bay equipment will remind employees of the weight limits in place, avoiding dangerous overloading situations. 

Additionally, it is worth reminding people that loading bays must remain tidy and clear of hazards at all times. Small pieces of packaging can get stuck in machinery and pose a trip hazard; while even small spills can have significant ramifications, with oil spills requiring special attention. For experienced individuals, additional signage may feel unnecessary but with the considerable number of new employees entering the logistics industry, providing clear, up to date information is essential. It will help to improve safety and, equally important, add confidence and boost morale for new members of the workforce.


Efficient loading bays are core to the success of any logistics operation. But these hubs of activity can be not only incredibly inefficient, but also extremely hazardous. Automation is increasingly important for any business today to transform productivity, improve efficiency and to demonstrate that health and safety comes first. This means improving end-to-end automation to reduce the manual activity required by employees, as well as implementing stringent safety processes and giving all staff appropriate, timely training.

The benefits are tangible. Automation improves effectiveness and also creates a safe and healthy workforce. Creating the right working environment not only improves employee morale – which is key to retention – but also contributes to greater productivity, ensuring the business meets demand and builds a satisfied, committed customer base.

OPINION: Employee safety in the logistics industry starts with data collection and analysis

Logistics organisations are under unprecedented pressure to improve not only efficiency, but also employee safety. The COVID-19-inspired spike in demand has highlighted endemic performance problems and created new workplace challenges; how can companies recruit and retain staff in a highly competitive market when the transport and storage industry exhibits a higher rate of injury at all levels of severity compared to other sectors?

Digital transformation provides a chance to improve efficiency, reduce costs and enhance responsiveness to customers, and transform the day-to-day experience for employees. This can only be achieved, however, if organisations get the right data collection and analysis solutions in place that quickly and effectively deliver new insight to logistics teams, explains Peter Ruffley (pictured), CEO, Zizo, and Ian Brown, CEO, Excelpoint…

Data Capture Challenge

While there are many technologies associated with digital transformation, in essence it is about data; using data to both automate processes and gain better understanding to drive business improvement.  

For many organisations, however, that simple statement is the stumbling point. What data is required? Where is it located? How is it accessed? Can it be used in combination with other sources? Is there any contextual information? How often does it change? 

The first question, of course, is: how can data be collected? For warehouse operations still reliant upon many manual, even paper-based processes, data collection is complex and time consuming. It can require significant effort to entice any insight from systems – information which is then out of date in this fast moving environment.  Inefficiencies remain unchecked and safety risks ignored.

Extracting Value

Achieving fast, effective data capture is a priority. No-code automation software that can be configured into a range of solutions for business-critical processes can quickly improve access to information, eliminating the need for multiple inputs across numerous systems. Such software helps businesses to streamline the way they manage people, systems and information, in turn, improving the workforce’s welfare, achieving flexibility and significant cost savings. 

For example, from a safety perspective, simple, automated solutions for logging, recording and resolving incidents can both ensure Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) compliance and provide vital insight to ensure the incident is not repeated in the future; while automated safetyaudits create a structured process where information driven insights support employee safety while meeting compliance regulations. 

In addition, the deployment of sensors or wearable devices, connecting to an Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform or at the edge, can very quickly deliver new business insights.  For example, data from smart controls, such as loading docks, blind intersections and door openings can be used for operational improvements, as well as ensuring employees are safe and following protocols. 

Employee Safety

With a holistic overview of operations, logistics managers gain confidence to make better decisions regarding both performance and employee well-being.  Workforces can identify areas where incidents could happen, highlighting risks before an accident occurs. In addition, information gathered from wearable devices can pick up an individual’s lifting techniques, body temperatures, heart rate or distance travelled in the workplace – providing managers with the ability to intervene in any unsafe practices in real-time.

This insight also creates a unified picture of what is happening across the factory or warehouse by highlighting patterns of behaviour that previously may have been undetectable, information that can be used within a feedback loop to drive continual improvements. For example, employees can be offered specific interactive and data-driven training – which will not only enhance employee wellbeing, but also improve employee productivity, in turn, increasing their satisfaction. 

This is crucial as, according to the Health and Safety Executive, ‘training helps people acquire the skills, knowledge and attitudes to make them competent in the health and safety aspects of their work.’ Such programmes, driven by data-insight, can ensure that individuals performing a task have the competence to do so without putting the health and safetyof others or themselves at risk.


Good employees are hard to find right now. For an industry experiencing a significantly higher number of safety incidents – for example forklift accidents account for approximately 85 deaths and 34,900 serious injuries each year – more must be done to both improve the operational risk environment and create tailored employee training and education. 

Furthermore, employee safety is a great place to kick off a digital transformation programme. With wearables and no-code solutions, the process is simple and creates zero disruption; and the insight is both immediate and accessible for logistics staff. Critically, it builds confidence in the value of data amongst logistics teams, accelerating their commitment to transformation and helping to create an appetite for data driven change.

Once businesses realise the benefits and can see the impact, such as better employee safety, warehouse managers will begin to question what else they can do. What else can be improved? What else can be changed for the better? And this is the foundation to driving the digital transformation.

Global employers ‘need to have security evacuation plans in place’

The current situation in eastern Europe has highlighted how quickly things can escalate and the vital need for employers with overseas staff to have an emergency plan in place in case of political or civil unrest.

That’s according to Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection said: “Employers need to be aware of the differences between security and medical evacuation plans. They must have both in place to ensure all bases are covered and they must be aware of the level of the support offered.”

Security evacuation
International medical insurance is specifically for the sick or injured. Security evacuation is different. While a political incident could result in grave physical harm or death, it is not actually a medical emergency and is unlikely to be covered by a medical emergency plan. Any region or country in which employees are working can be at risk. Terror attacks, for example, happen all around the world and often with no prior indication. With support ranging from ‘point of incident evacuation’ and ‘political or natural disaster evacuation’, to ‘security evacuation’, it is vital to take specialist advice on exactly how to offer emergency support for employees abroad. 

Evacuation and repatriation
Employers and their employees abroad should be aware that evacuation is different from repatriation. With regards to medical evacuation, for example, this means that if there are no appropriate medical facilities in the employee’s current location, they will be evacuated to the nearest centre of medical excellence to undergo care. Repatriation, however, means that the employee will be transported back to their home nation for treatment. Under security evacuation, an employee may find they are taken to the nearest safe location, rather than to their home country, unless repatriation is a specific part of the support offered.

International medical insurance
International medical insurance is also crucial for any employee abroad. It must be fit for purpose, and this will be different on a case-by-case basis. If an employee falls seriously ill abroad, it is imperative that they are fully covered for all eventualities. Travel insurance is for short holidays and is not to the level required by someone working overseas.

Local expertise
Local knowledge can form an important part of the decision-making process when sending employees abroad. Guidance from experts in country can provide an insight into the situation into which staff are being sent. They will be able to give guidance on the risks associated with an area, and help employers to make informed decisions on what support is required.   

Dennis added: “Support for employees abroad is not something that a company can take short cuts on, neither is it something that should be undertaken without advice. It is a very specialist area. Hopefully, employees and their employers will never have to rely on evacuation or repatriation services, whether for medical or security reasons. It is vital, however, that both are in place in case it is needed, and that the extent of the support is fully understood.”

73% of employees will choose next employer based on health and wellbeing support

A survey of UK employers and employees has shown that while just over half (56%) of employers admit they regularly check in with all employees to enquire about their health and wellbeing and 55% provide laptops, 73% of employees are ready to choose their next employer based on physical, health and wellbeing support and flexible technology provision.

The Future of Work survey by Ergotron, a global company designing and manufacturing ergonomic solutions to improve workspaces and interaction with technology, revealed that despite 88% of employers seeing the importance of bringing  IT devices when working in different rooms, almost a quarter (23%) of employers disagreed that the provision of the right ergonomic work conditions and support in employees’ health and overall well-being would be a strong asset in talent acquisition.

This rose to 43% in organisations with 250-500 employees, and a staggering 64% of HR industry respondents. However, the finance and tech sectors most appreciate the significance of these factors, with 80% of those in IT/telecoms and 75% of those in finance agreeing the importance.

However, employers appear to have the ambition to make a success of remote working, appreciating the importance of an agile working environment. 73% think it’s important for workers to be able to switch between sitting and standing to support their physical needs while at work (87% of businesses with 250-500 employees) and over half (52%) of workers consider it important.

Due to the need to collaborate with remote teams, and to work from home, the office or other locations, flexibility of technology, and portability of devices, has become critical too. 77% of employees and 88% of employers agreed on the importance of being able to bring their IT devices with them when working in different rooms. Yet only 55% of employers claim they are supplying a laptop to workers for home, office or third space.

Results of the survey showed a clear disparity in terms of equipment employees deem essential  and what employers provide. Despite 89% of workers and 89% of employers citing a laptop as important, only 65% of all employees claim to have been provided one and 55% of employers admit to providing one. 75% of workers and 81% of employers concurred on the importance of an ergonomic chair, yet again, only 19% of workers claimed employers had supplied them with one.

With an increasing amount of technology applications required for typical work roles, 65% of employers said it’s important to have a large screen monitor (between 30 – 49 inches) but less than a third (28%) of employees have been supplied one and 30% of employers admitted they had provided one. 15% of workers claimed employers had not provided any equipment at all – including a laptop, ergonomic chair, large monitor, or a subsidy for equipment. While 30% of employers claim to offer a subsidy to workers to buy their own equipment, only 17% of employees claim they have been offered this.

Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Ergotron, said: “We’re now in the third year of a new workstyle for most organisations, and business leaders should by now have assessed their workspaces and at least be in planning to deliver for workers’ needs – their organisation’s biggest asset. The importance of the need for adaptable workstyles has grown hugely to build safe, healthy, productive, and collaborative working environments – and workers’ needs sit well above what their employers are currently providing. Most alarming is the lack of attention to workers’ comfort and wellbeing while at work. In addressing this and other dedicated resources for a remote or hybrid workstyle, employers will provide supportive working environments which attract and retain staff, which is the making of a business. Given the business need for digital agility, deferring remote working provision will hold organisations back regardless of size or sector.”

Whistleblowing increasing in workplaces as staff empowered to report wrongdoing

Culture changes and new hybrid working patterns created by the global pandemic are raising unforeseen HR and health and safety issues among employees, according to a new report.

The pandemic and frequent changes in rules and guidance have created uncertainty and increases in misconduct in many workplaces, resulting in higher reporting rates of whistleblowing.

Safecall’s Whistleblowing Benchmark Report 2022 highlights the rise in reporting rates, the trends, and areas of reported wrongdoing in different sectors. The data contained within this annual report – based on anonymised data from more than 750 organisations with 2.5 million employees – is aimed at helping companies and organisations understand the trends in misconduct.

Report author Greg Ogle, client account manager at Safecall, said: “The data is designed to inform and help organisations make better decisions when it comes to establishing whistleblowing arrangements. It should help HR and health & safety managers or departments to determine and measure performance of their organisation against their peers.

“There are many factors associated with an effective whistleblowing management system. Working across an extensive client base, in 108 countries, we have established best practice guidance to help organisations get the most from their whistleblowing arrangements.”

While legislation (EU Whistleblowing Directive) and compliance are among the drivers of change, many businesses and organisations see that whistleblowing establishes an improved workplace, where employees are respected, which has the added benefit of improving overall wellbeing.

Greg explained that more employees are being encouraged and empowered to do the right thing and report wrongdoing at work; likewise, more employers are recognising the ethical benefits of supporting staff to report wrongdoing safely.

The latest Report, which covers 2021, reveals that trends during the year appear to have reverted to more normal patterns after the shock of Covid-19 in 2020. Dishonest behaviour and general misconduct reports were back to similar levels seen in 2019.

However, the ongoing pandemic meant the number of health and safety reports remained higher than in past years and HR reports continued to rise.

Reporting rates vary year on year for every organisation with whistleblowing arrangements. The company culture, the current change agenda and growth strategy all contribute to the number of concerns raised by employees. Those companies that regularly promote, refresh and talk about their ‘Speak Up’ services receive more reports year on year.

Safecall evaluates reports into four classifications – HR, general, dishonest behaviour, and health & safety. During 2021 the number of health & safety reports decreased as Covid rules became more normalised and widely accepted. This was replaced by an increase in the number of general reports, mainly related to company policy and procedure. Reports continued to be predominantly HR related, accounting for more than 55% of all reports in 2021.

Within the HR classification, reports from employees are categorised under bullying, discrimination, harassment, racism, unfair treatment, and victimisation. The data reveals that ‘unfair treatment’ is the main complaint with slight increases in bullying and harassment reported in 2021.

When it comes to health & safety reports, the number of reports remains higher than pre-pandemic albeit slightly lower than in 2020. Substance abuse continues to be the main issue, particularly within certain sectors.

Dishonest behaviour reports remained consistent with 2020, albeit with a decrease in the number of integrity and fraud issues raised.

Within the general classification, there continued to be an emphasis on reputational issues along with policy / compliance matters.

The vast majority of industries receive the largest percentage of their reports in the HR category, with health & safety, and general following.

Tim Smith, Safecall operations director, said: “The pandemic seems to have accelerated different patterns of working and behaviour. This, in turn, has made more employers look at culture change and that has prompted greater interest and use of whistleblowing services.

“More companies and organisations see the benefits of creating a safe space for employees to live and work. Employers are increasingly seeing how such services protect the integrity of an organisation as well as the reputation of a brand.”

For more information, visit: https://www.safecall.co.uk/en/whistleblowing-hotline/whistleblowing-benchmark-report-2022/

Wellbeing in the Workplace: Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Stress has become one of the great public health challenges of our time, but it still isn’t being taken as seriously as physical health concerns. April sees the return of Stress Awareness Month, now in its 30th year, to help increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, around 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Whether work-related or personal, stress can place demands on both the physical and mental health of employees with symptoms influencing their behaviour, relationships with colleagues and performance.

Stress is often a leading cause of work absences and 2019 alone saw over 602,000 cases of work-related stress and anxiety in the UK. Stress affects everyone, and it’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s a human response to the stressors and strains of modern life. But what causes it and how can we spot it within the workplace?


Stress in the workplace isn’t always caused by one singular event or incident, it can often be a culmination of day-to-day stressors that build up over time into a more sustained period of stress. Some key stressors include;

  • excessive workload and/or unrealistic deadlines 
  • poor work/life balance
  • difficulties maintaining relationships with colleagues
  • lack of control over how to complete a job 
  • lack of support and information to complete tasks
  • being unclear of job role and responsibilities

It is worth noting that stress affects everyone differently, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to solving the issue. Individual factors such as skills, experience, age, disability, tolerance and personality may all have an impact on someone’s ability to deal with stressors.  


Stress isn’t always easy to diagnose due to its wide-ranging impact on both physical and mental health which means it can be expressed in a variety of ways. Physically, long-term stress can increase the likelihood of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, immunosuppression, insomnia, headaches and much more which left untreated or managed can cause complications later in life. 

Mentally, a simple sign of stress is ‘Brain Fog’ which is often described as a cloudy or muddled feeling, it is mainly characterised by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. However, some key symptom indicators in the workplace could be identified by;

  • Performance at Work;
    • Declining performance
    • Unexpected errors
    • Loss of motivation or commitment
    • Memory lapses
    • Lack of interaction 
    • Arriving late / leaving early 
  • Behaviour Changes
    • Irritable/moodiness
    • Over-reactionary
    • Argumentative/temperamental
    • Noticeable mood swings 
    • Overly critical 
    • Clashes with colleagues

The Knock-On Effect

Alongside the individual effects, stress and mental ill health is responsible for 72 million working days lost every year, costing over £40bn to the economy, highlighting the importance of employers taking stock of the impact that work, demands, deadlines, support (or lack thereof), and much more has on an individual. 

To help support you and your colleagues, hero has a range of engaging and thought-provoking packages available to identify and understand stressors, and work to help prevent stress in the future:

Mental Resilience Programme

  • Webinar 30mins + Q&A (£600)
  • Digital Workshop – <90mins (£800)
  • Physical Activity Webinar – 20 mins (£150)
  • Full Package (£1,495 + VAT)

Sessions can include; Introduction to Wellbeing, Mental Health Awareness, Positive Mindset, Better Sleep, Understanding Stress, Winter Wellbeing, Brain Health, Power of the Breath, Positive Psychology, Food & Mood, Movement for Mood, Mindfulness, Managing Anxiety, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, Post-Pandemic Resilience, Seasonal Affective Disorder

With access to hero’s award-winning whole-person health wellbeing platform, Navigator, your team will gain access to evidence-based, research-led solutions and resources. For more information please get in touch with hero.

Easily create compliant, safe and efficient workplaces

Complete solutions for all your workplace safety needs from just one partner? Meet Brady Safety Experts at Health and Safety Event 2022!

Every workplace accident generates cost, and potentially includes a severe human toll that impacts morale and productivity. Managing safety risks to prevent workplace accidents from happening is both a humane and an economically sound strategy to protect or even improve company profitability. Brady proposes a number of safety identification solutions to help reduce workplace risks for some of the most frequently occurring accident categories.

Brady will help you to easily create a compliant, safer and more efficient workplace with durable pipe markers, safety signs, CLP-labels and area marking. Align with European Union Directives and national legislation, prevent accidents by communicating important safety information when and where co-workers need to see it, and identify areas in line with 5S and lean manufacturing for more efficiency.

Don’t wait for delivery of safety signage! Print it yourself on demand!

Support your Go for zero programme by immediately adding safety signs or warnings whenever risks emerge in your workplace. Use a professional printer and safety sign software to quickly create the right signs that clearly communicate any risk or danger to your co-workers.

Discover Brady’s Sign and Label Printers >>

Whether you’re looking for GHS labels, arc flash labels, pipe markers or other workplace visuals, Brady provides a complete line of on-demand printing solutions that are designed to save you time. And unlike competitive offerings, every part of our printing solutions are designed to keep you running more efficiently. Here’s how:

  • Faster printing: No need to send artwork to a vendor and wait up to seven days – create and print your label with your custom words, languages and logos when you need it.
  • Less waste: The only complete solution on the market that includes labels, printers and software with print smart technology that work together to get from start to print in 30 seconds without any resizing, recalibrating or waste.
  • Full facility applications: You get more than 300 material options that are designed to last in even the toughest environments and meet the highest quality and testing standards

Visit Brady’s Stand: 4/N30 at Health and Safety Event 2022, Birmingham and take your opportunity to see various labelling solution in action, speak to our professionals and consult any of identification issues you face in your daily life or in upcoming projects.

BRADY Corporation

Wildmere Industrial Estate

Banbury, Oxon OX16 3JU

Tel: +44 (0) 1295 228 288