Health and Well-being in the workplace

Industry News By Andy Taylor

It is estimated that over 1 million people are suffering from an illness believed to be caused or made worse by work. Illnesses include occupational lung disease, cancer, and mental health issues such as stress and depression. Although the rate of work-related illnesses hasn’t increased, it still poses huge problems for businesses and the wider economy. In 2015/16, it is estimated that over 25 million working days were lost due to work-related illness which cost the economy billions of pounds.

These statistics alone shows that there is a strong business (and moral) case for promoting health and well-being in the workplace. Happy and healthy staff are important for business success. Health and well-being programmes are growing in popularity, allowing employers to work with their staff to build a culture dedicated to health and well-being in the workplace. Such programmes include basics such as free fruit to promote healthy eating and mental health awareness training right through to free yoga classes and standing desks.

We have recently worked with a large construction company, successfully providing the NEBOSH Health & Well-being Certificate which covers a range of topics including ill-health at work, absenteeism, and mental health. The company are now committed to launching a health and well-being programme, showing that even industries that have traditionally been seen as “macho” now understand the importance of workplace health.

Following on the construction theme, we are seeing an increase in health and well-being schemes and programmes across the industry. The relatively new “Mates in Mind” scheme has been created and is supported by a number businesses in the industry as well as charities including The Samaritans and Mental Health First Aid England. The aim of the scheme is to raise awareness of mental health issues in the construction industry and to provide support to organisations to improve conditions and remove the stigma surrounding mental health. One of the scheme’s taglines is “Suicide kills far more construction workers than falls” which shows the importance of getting the industry talking about mental health.

We’re seeing a shift in our most popular courses as organisations are putting more of a focus on workplace health. Our NEBOSH health and well-being course is currently extremely busy. We’re seeing high attendance on our public courses and we’re running in-house courses for a range of other clients, big and small, in a variety of industries. We hope that this is a reflection of changing attitudes and priorities across the country and leads to an improvement in workplace health and well-being.

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