Harassment in the workplace will become the main cause of stress claims in the future, a leading insurer has warned.

QBE complex loss team manager Mike Noonan said the type of workplace stress claim was changing from "too much work" to bullying and discrimination.

He also told the QBE Insurance Annual Conference 2005 that employers faced tough standards placed on them by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

He said: "There is a risk that current HSE guidelines are setting employers up for a fall. They are a bit too demanding."

He said QBE would provide guidance for employers on how to improve risk management and avoid claims.

Also at the conference, FirstAssist chief executive Tim Ablett cited stress as the second most common cause of workplace absence.

He warned that some firms were still not recognising the need for risk management.