TUC study shows workplace stress at record levels

By agency reporter
October 10, 2016

Stress is the top health and safety concern in UK workplaces according to a Trades Union Congress (TUC) study published today (10 October 2016) on World Mental Health Day.

The TUC’s biennial survey of more than 1,000 health and safety reps around the UK asks them to pick out the hazards at work that most trouble them and their workforces.

Stress was at the top of the list in this year’s survey, with seven in 10 reps (70 per cent) citing it as a problem – up three per cent since the last survey in 2014 when 67 per cent did so, and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study. Stress is one of the main causes of mental health problems, in particular anxiety and depression.

  • Stress is higher in the public sector: The TUC survey finds that concern over stress is higher in the public sector, most affected by government cuts, than the private sector. It is especially prevalent in central government (where 93 per cent of reps cited it as a top five workplace hazard), education (89 per cent) and health services (82 per cent).
  • Big rise in concern about stress at medium-sized companies: Stress is the most common concern faced by reps and workers regardless of the size of the workplace. Since 2014, it has become more widespread in some workplaces – most notably in those with 50-99 workers, where 75 per cent of reps cited it as a top-five concern compared with 62 per cent two years ago.
  • Stress levels rising across the UK: The survey also reveals that stress is the most widespread concern in all 11 regions and countries in the UK. It has increased the most in the last two years in Northern Ireland (up by 13 per cent to 78 per cent compared to 65 per cent in 2014), the North (up by 11 per cent to 78 per cent), Scotland (up by eight per cent to 74 per cent) and the South West (up by six per cent to 81 per cent). East Anglia (64 per cent) the South East (67 per cent) and Wales (75 per cent) have all seen five per cent increases in stress being reported as the main health and safety concern at work.

The TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The message from the shop floor is clear, stress is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Pressures of long working hours and low job security are being felt in workplaces across the UK.

“It’s in no-one’s interests to have overstretched workforces. People who experience high anxiety are less productive and are more likely to take time off. Stress is preventable if staff have reasonable workloads, supportive managers and a workplace free from violence, bullying and harassment.

“Anyone worried about their workload or being unfairly treated at work should join a union, to get the support they need and their interests represented at work.”

* Read the TUC study here

* TUC https://www.tuc.org.uk/

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