Mental health problems can make everyday life difficult, just as physical problems can, and yet not enough people in the industry with mental health problems or mental illness are getting the help and support they need. In this blog, Rick Brunt, Head of Agriculture, Health & Safety Executive emphasises the need to address work related stress in all industries, especially farming and especially now…
“My usual view of the world of agriculture comes from the constant flow of fatal injuries that come across my desk. These in themselves paint a picture of the losses sustained by families month after month and year after year. What is not so obvious is the toll that mental health issues also have on the industry. The pressures felt on farms aren’t going to disappear, so it’s more important than ever that you protect your workers’ physical and mental health as well as your own.
“We all have a collective role to play to make sure we all go home healthy and safe from work. It’s everyone’s responsibility and we can’t just accept that “stress has become part of the job” and use this as a justification not to act.
“HSE has partnered with the Farm Safety Foundation to support this Mind Your Head campaign focusing on mental wellbeing in the farming industry. This year we’re focusing on building resilience in the industry.
“Although rewarding, managing a farm comes with the issues of family life, balancing budgets, planning for the future and keeping pace with changes in the industry. For workers, days on the farm can often mean working long, irregular hours in social isolation, without someone to discuss issues with.
“Add to that the uncontrollable factors, such as unpredictable weather, unanticipated machinery breakdowns and the effects of volatility on financial markets, and farmers can find themselves stressed and struggling to achieve a healthy work/life balance.
Only once workers have identified these stressors, can they begin to take action to help alleviate some of the pressures.
HSE has developed a set of stress management standards to help businesses manage work-place stress.
They cover six key areas of work:
Homing in on these areas helps employers focus on the underlying causes of stress and understand how to prevent them. The key to tackling work-related stress is engaging with your workforce on the issue, getting to the root of the issue, identifying the key stressor(s), and working to agree practical solutions.
Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest health and injury statistics show over half a million workers across the country have suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety in the last year.
Stress is also one of the two most commonly reported causes of sickness absence in Britain so it’s more important than ever that we all take responsibility and look out for each other. You may be helping someone else as well if you open up and say how you feel.
Stress can affect anyone working in the farming industry at any given time. If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem it’s important to speak to someone, be that a friend, family member, GP or occupational health team.
Our Go Home Healthy campaign focuses on workplace stress and we have a toolkit that you can download to help start those initial conversations. By taking action together we can create a more engaged, healthy workforce, boost productivity and save money.
For more information and for practical help to start a conversation with your workers to prevent work-related stress CLICK HERE