While falls from height and other industrial accidents at work can be incredibly debilitating, many people discount the impact that repeated exposure to work-related stress can have on an employee – injury and illness can be caused by emotional and mental turmoil as easily as a slip and trip, and can be just as painful.
The Health and Safety Commission and the TUC say that nearly half of the 30 million days lost to work-related injuries or illnesses in 2011 can be attributed to depression, anxiety, or stress, with a grand total of 13.4 million missed days of work. The amount of workers that have reported to suffer from work-related stress has grown by double over the last ten years, with the number of new cases being reported last year reaching 265,000.
It’s not just ‘high risk’ industries or roles that work-related stress rears its ugly head in the UK, and while a certain level of stress may actually be beneficial -such as the stress experienced when working to a tight deadline or starting a new job – the increase in productivity caused by certain levels of stress peaks very quickly. Once the physiological and emotional costs reach the point of no return, it’s a short, terrifying ride to rock-bottom for all too many workers in the UK.
Harassment or bullying at work is one of the newest issues that have begun to arise, most often triggered by a senior staff member employing ‘tough love’ management tactics. The irony of this is that these managers are often victims of excessive stress due to the amount of pressure they are constantly under to deliver better results with less resources – with the current economic environment being what it is, this has only gotten even worse lately.
A TUC survey undertaken earlier in 2012 found that as many as five million workers could be bullied while on the job. Nearly one out of every four TUC help line calls dealt with workplace bullying allegations, with the bully being the line manager of the victim 83 per cent of the time.