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Wednesday, 29 November, 2000, 15:44 GMT
Stress 'biggest work health hazard'
office stress
Unions and employers agree stress is a major problem
Bullying, shift work and staff cuts, are helping make stress the greatest health hazard in UK workplaces, according to research.

Separate studies by trade unions and employers have both confirmed stress as a major problem in the workplace.

Two out of three union officials surveyed by the Trades Union Congress said stress was the number one concern - largely due to workloads.

Meanwhile, three out of four employers told Industrial Society surveyors that stress was set to be their greatest health and safety issue in the next two years.
Factors behind workplace stress (TUC research)
Workload 74%
Staff cuts 53%
Change 44%
Long hours 39%
Shift work 30%
Bullying 30%
Cramped conditions 16%

The most stressed workers are in London and Scotland.

Bullying, cited as a key contributor to stress, is common in the voluntary sector and government offices, as well as the high-pressure worlds of banking and finance.

Despite growing recognition of the problem, fewer than a third of firms were monitoring stress.

"Employers are aware of stress and its consequences but are still struggling to find ways of identifying and dealing with it," said Pat McGuinness of the Industrial Society.

TUC general secretary John Monks
John Monks: "We should be working better"
"Having open and honest lines of communication where employees feel they can freely acknowledge that they are under stress without fear of retribution can go some way to alleviating the problem."

John Monks, TUC general secretary, said a modern, 24-hour economy did not have to mean long hours.

"We should be working better not longer," he said.

The TUC has called for compensation for victims if bosses had not assessed the risks properly.

The Industrial Society found some firms were keen to tackle stress and were offering aromatherapy, reflexology or exercise classes.

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See also:

27 Oct 00 | Education
Stressed teachers reach for helpline
18 Oct 00 | Talking Point
Are you stressed at work?
25 May 00 | Health
Job strain 'as bad as smoking'
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