By Alex Botha, Chief Executive, British Safety Council

With stress costing the UK economy £6.5bn, it is undeniable that this is one of the biggest health related priorities facing businesses. The British Safety Council is lending its voice to this important issue, as well asking workplaces to give due attention to occupational health overall.

Businesses managing risks in their workplace are increasingly seeing occupational health as a priority. A number of factors are contributing – a workforce that is ageing, the changing shape of our economy to one that is more service orientated, the pressures on government and the NHS with the fact that people are living with illness and disease for longer.

But with so many pressures on businesses too, and the complexity involved, we recognise that we have an important role to play in providing practical steps on how to address occupational health.

We draw in the practical experience of thousands of our members dealing with these issues and we share their experiences but also identify what more can, and should, be done.

What we’ve seen is that in tackling occupational health, a lot of learning can be drawn from the ‘safety’ landscape. So often we see that it is about clear leadership, effective communication, appropriate training, good measurement and management – in a sense, health can be managed ‘like safety’. And the business case is there to support the value of such investments.

In support of European Health and Safety Week held this week, the British Safety Council is making its guide for employers on managing stress in the workplace freely available until the end of November.