12th of December marks the Workplace Day of Remembrance. Established in 2019 the day is a time to remember everyone who lost their lives at work, whatever their job. Thankfully and quite rightly, workplaces have become physically safer for employees in the UK since the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety. In that year, more than 650 people died at work. In 2019/20, with Covid-19 having an impact on work-related deaths, the HSE reports that 142 people died, an increase of 29 on the previous year.
Fatalities are tragic in a workplace, but work-related illness can also be devastating to individuals, families and communities. An estimated 1.6 million workers were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work.
Stress, depression, or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 54% of all working days lost due to ill health across the UK’s workforce in 2018/19.
The pandemic has exacerbated this further. Recent research by Ipsos, in partnership with RingCentral, surveyed 2,000 people aged 21 to 65 to assess attitudes to work post-Covid. Steve Rafferty, RingCentral’s UK and Ireland manager, said that “people’s attitudes have changed over the last two years” in terms of work life balance, “if businesses want to retain staff they need to offer an environment that caters to modern needs.”
He added: “There needs to be more research into how the pandemic has changed people’s mental wellbeing.”
To support better workplace wellbeing, Bristol City Council has a guide on how to promote positive physical and mental health and wellbeing in the workplace with has both local and national sources of useful information.