News on work-related stress

Work-related stress is one of the biggest health and safety challenges 

that we face in Europe. Nearly one in four workers is affected by it, and studies suggest that between 50% and 60% of all lost working days are related to it. This represents a huge cost in terms of both human distress and impaired economic performance.

Stress at work can affect anyone at any level. It can happen in any sector and in any size of organisation. Stress affects the health and safety of individuals, but also the health of organisations and national economies.

Stress is the second most reported work-related health problem, affecting 22% of workers from EU 27 (in 2005). And the number of people suffering from stress-related conditions caused or made worse by work is likely to increase. The changing world of work is making increased demands on workers, through downsizing and outsourcing, the greater need for flexibility in terms of function and skills, increasing use of temporary contracts, increased job insecurity and work intensification (with higher workload and more pressure), and poor work-life balance.

Stress can cause people ill and misery, both at work and at home. Stress may also compromise workplace safety, and contribute to other work-related health problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders. And stress significantly affects an organisation’s bottom line.

Reducing work-related stress and psychosocial risks is not only a moral, but also legal imperative. There’s a strong business case as well. In 2002, the annual economic cost of work-related stress in the EU-15 was estimated at 20 billion Euros.

The good news is that work-related stress can be dealt with in the same logical and systematic way as other health and safety issues. There is a wealth of practical examples of dealing with it across the EU. With the right approach, workers can be kept safe from stress.

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