The 10th September marks World Suicide Prevention Day. Between us we may be able to help someone who perceives there is only one way out. But why should we be so concerned?
Health and safety law (criminal law) places a legal duty on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare at work of all of his employers.
This means that employers must address any issues that may cause a worker to have suicidal thoughts including workload, stress, aggression and violence and bullying.
The employer has a legal duty under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment of reasonably foreseeable risks and put in place controls to eliminate or reduce the risk, so far as is reasonably practicable.
The World Health Organisation warn us that we are facing a major risk of mental ill-health in the very near future due to the COVID-19 world crisis. It would be fair to speculate WHO’s warning constitutes ‘reasonable foreseeability’ and therefore employers cannot plead ignorance to the fact that the current situation has increased the risk of mental ill-health in the workplace. Suicides being a significant outcome.
As part of the health and well-being policy, suicide prevention should be addressed within the wider occupational health, safety and wellbeing strategies.
It is foreseeable that an organisation:
is more likely to ensure that workers are comfortable in raising problem issues and know that they will get support.
Public Health England and Business in the Community have produced an excellent toolkit for employers on suicide prevention, which can be viewed here. It says that a safe and healthy workplace can be achieved by:
To reduce the risk of someone suffering from work related mental ill-health, it is necessary to reduce the likelihood of harm occurring, reduce the consequence should harm occur or both. It is vitally important that organisations provide training for everyone, from Senior Executives, to Managers, Supervisors and workers to be aware of the risks to mental health at work.
I can only imagine the trauma of losing someone to suicide. For the individual it would be a tragic waste of life; for an employer, it would be catastrophic and to family and friends it would be heart breaking.
If mental health is not addressed in the workplace, then suicides rates will rise. The great thing is that we can all do something to reduce the risk of that happening. Information, instruction and training is the key to understanding. I implore organisations not to neglect providing this for their teams. It is vital.
NPTNI is committed to playing their part to reduce the risk of mental and physical harm at work, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you feel we can help you. We can make a massive difference, I promise you.
© 2021 Nicola Penman. All rights reserved.