WORK stress counts for 17 per cent of all staff sickness at South Lakeland District Council, new figures show.

But ‘non-work-related stress’ results in far more staff taking time off,  according to an annual health and safety report.

During the year, SLDC provided its workforce with mental health resilience training focussing on stress, depression and anxiety. It is also planning new mental health, and drugs and alcohol policies.

The figures also show that 84 working days were lost as a result of accidents involving members of staff.

Thirty accidents were recorded, which is in line with recent years, but higher than the 25 seen in 2014 and lower than in 2015 when there were 37.

Nineteen ‘near misses’ were reported – a fall on the 91 in 2017.

Six involved a slip, trip or fall and six involved a member of staff being hit by a ‘moving, flying or falling’ object. Four members of staff hit something ‘fixed or stationary’.

However, the council set ‘ambitious targets’ to improve health and safety during 2018-19, it said.

“The council continues to monitor and review its performance and continually looks to improve the health and safety culture of the organisation,” said a report going before councillors next week.

Its accident rate is regarded as ‘low’ and it was recognised with a bronze award for Better Health at Work a year ago and plans to ‘Reach For Zero’ to improve health and safety.

Lawrence Conway, chief executive, pointed out there had been a decline in incidents during the last year, and a reduction in ‘legally reportable incidents’.

“Thanks to the great efforts of our staff, SLDC can report a decline in numbers and incident rates,” he wrote in the foreword to the annual report.

“Initiatives that have taken place during the year include improving the management of health and safety through the introduction of improved guidance and policies and a greater focus on communicating key messages across the organisation. This work is obviously having a positive effect.”

The report is due to be discussed by SLDC’s cabinet on Wednesday, November 27.