Motor trade organisations have joined forces with the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Working Minds campaign to tackle work-related stress in the motor repair trade.
Work-related stress and poor mental health risk becoming a health and safety crisis for Great Britain’s workplaces, the regulator has warned. Statistics published by HSE show in 2020/21 of the 1.7 million workers suffering from a work-related illness, 822,000 were due to stress, depression or anxiety.
National Body Repair Association (NBRA), the commercial Vehicle Body Repair Association (VBRA), The Independent Garage Association (IGA) and Ben, the automotive industry charity (that supports people who have worked in the industry, work in the industry and their family dependants) have become Working Minds campaign partners to champion the prevention of stress and poor mental health in the motor repair sector.
All employers no matter the size of the business have a legal duty to protect workers from stress and poor mental health and wellbeing at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. The Working Minds campaign, led by HSE with the support of partners, helps businesses to recognise and respond to the signs of stress at work.
Alison Wellens, interim head of Health and Work Branch at HSE, said: “We are calling for a culture change across Britain’s workplaces where managing stress and talking about how people are coping is as routine as managing workplace safety. Even before the pandemic took hold, it was estimated that mental health issues cost UK employers up to £45 billion a year.
“We’re delighted to have our new partners on board to champion Working Minds for smaller businesses. They will play an important role in sharing key information as well as provide essential insight into the unique stressors experienced by people working in associated motor trades as we continue to evolve our campaign.”
Chris Weeks, director at NBRA, said: “Everyone can suffer with stress and poor mental health – it affects us all at different times and in different ways. People working in the vehicle repair industry are no exception and we know that taking action on stress and mental health can bring huge business benefits – it reduces sickness absence, boosts morale and helps improve productivity.
“NBRA is supporting the Health and Safety Executive Working Minds campaign to help employers and workers to get the information and support they need to prevent work-related stress and continue to deliver incredible services to consumers.”
Frank Harvey, Head of Member Services at IGA said: “Despite increased awareness around mental health in recent years, people can still feel like they need to suppress their stress and mental health struggles in the workplace out of embarrassment or fear of looking weak. Not only is this damaging for long-term mental and physical health, but no-one should struggle alone.
“The IGA is proud to support Working Minds, as campaigns like this can help people to realise that they can reach out to their employer without judgement. Help is readily available and seeking support can lift the huge burden often felt by those struggling with their mental health.”
Rachel Clift, Health and Wellbeing Director at Ben said: “Working with industry employers and raising awareness has never been more important to ensure people struggling with their mental health and wellbeing can get the support they need.
“Currently, one in three individuals contacting Ben’s helpline for support are referrals from their employer. Of these, 60 per cent are looking for support with their mental health, which demonstrates how prominent this issue is in the automotive industry.
“Mental health issues amongst your workforce could also be impacting the overall health of your business. For example, if you run a body shop with 10 employees, our figures show that poor mental health could be costing you around £10,000 – £15,000 a year. Therefore, it is in everyone’s interests to take better care of each other and to encourage colleagues and employees to access help when they need it.”
Working Minds is aimed specifically at supporting small businesses by providing employers and workers with easy to implement advice, including simple steps to Reach out, Recognise, Respond, Reflect, and make it Routine.
For more information about the campaign, including the legal obligations, advice, and tools available, visit: workright.campaign.gov.uk/campaigns/workingminds.
If you work, or have worked, in the UK automotive industry, Ben is here for you and your family. We all need a bit of extra support sometimes to help us navigate life’s challenges. Whether you’re struggling with your physical or mental health and wellbeing or you feel at crisis point, Ben can help you get back on track. Find out more about Ben’s free and confidential support at: ben.org.uk.