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Thursday, September 2, 1999 Published at 01:35 GMT 02:35 UK


Workers at risk of 'desk rage'

Stress at work leads to ill health and shouting matches

Stress at work is driving people to drink, insomnia and illness as long hours and growing workloads take their toll.

And psychologists are reporting a new phenomenon of "desk rage" with workers resorting to stand-up rows with their colleagues because of the pressure they face.

An ICM survey of more than 600 workers in England found that 64% felt they were affected by workplace stress.

Fifty-six per cent said they lost sleep as a result, 26% had fallen ill and 28% had had a stand-up row with a colleague.

Men were more likely to shout at their colleagues - 16% said they had done so, compared to 9% of women.

But women were more likely to admit to breaking down and crying because of stress.

Workload was the main reason for stress, followed by pressure to meet targets and deadlines.

Twenty-eight per cent had reached for alcohol to calm their nerves, and one in three turned to cigarettes.

Lunch hour dying out

Thirty per cent of women and 15% of men said chocolate helped them beat stress.

The survey also showed that many workers are skipping lunch to get more work done. Under a fifth always take a lunchbreak, with 92% of people in the Midlands missing out.

Psychologist Sue Keane of the British Psychological Society urged workers to find time for a break.

She said: "We have had road rage. Now we are seeing desk rage as stress builds to intolerable levels and conflicts boil over between colleagues.

"Just a few minutes out of the office or workplace at lunchtime could make all the difference."

It is estimated that 40 million working days are lost in the UK every year because of stress.

Studies suggest the advent of call centres, mobile phones and emails have only helped to increase pressure.

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