The HSE’s new Health and Work strategy – which includes plans to tackle stress in the health and education sectors – was launched in December to a small invited audience by Penny Mordaunt, minister of state for disabled people, health and work.

The strategy focuses on the two principle causes of ill health related absence: stress and musculoskeletal disorders, which together account for 80% of lost working time.

The third focus is occupational lung disease, which accounts for 90% of estimated deaths related to exposures at work, or 12,000 deaths a year.

According to the HSE, the strategy is aligned to the over-arching Helping Great Britain Work Well strategy, but forms a separate entity.

While Helping Great Britain Work Well will see the HSE act as cheerleader for the efforts of employers and stakeholders, the new Health and Work strategy puts the HSE in the driving seat as others – such as safety organisations, unions and employers – provide the momentum.

The launch will be followed by “conversations” with stakeholders through various channels, rather than a more formal consultation period, an HSE spokesperson said.

It is inviting the safety sector and employers to engage on the strategy through digital webinars, email bulletins and social media.

The strategy says that the HSE will prioritise interventions, inspection activity and enforcement on those sectors and work activities where lung cancer, occupational asthma and legionella pose the highest risks.

Three sub-strategies, also published, outline a series of measures intended to raise awareness of risk factors, publicise benchmarks and build up expertise.

On stress, there are plans to launch pilot projects targeting the “priority” sectors of education and health.

The HSE also plans to publish a “refreshed” suite of guidance and tools on stress; to provide benchmarking data by sector and business size; and to research the effectiveness of its “Management Standards” approach.

On lung disease, there is a plan to draw together expertise in an “authoritative leadership” body, which will be established and commission an action plan by the end of 2017.

The strategy says that the HSE will prioritise interventions, inspection activity and enforcement on those sectors and work activities where lung cancer, occupational asthma and legionella pose the highest risks.

It will also continue research on asbestos and lung disease, gather evidence on respirable crystalline silica exposure at work and publish the results, and continue research on asthma risks, publishing the conclusions by March 2018.

On MSDs, proposed measures will include developing and promoting digital versions of the HSE’s MSD tools, and refreshing HSE guidance on the subject, including updating information on the use of display screen equipment.

There are plans to develop a suite of leading indicators to measure MSD risk management in individual businesses/sectors by the end of 2017.

There will be a new HSE steering group on MSDs to support inspectors that lead work in sectors and sector-specific MSD initiatives, which will meet in early in 2017.

The HSE estimates that a quarter of all enforcement notices issued to dutyholders concern health issues.