Stressed to Kill

We all know someone who claims to ‘thrive under pressure’, but for as many as 5 million of the UK’s workforce, the situation is very different. HSE research has indicated that this is the number of people who are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ stressed by their work. It is further estimated that in 2003/04 nearly 13 million working days were lost as a result of work-related stress.

EDGE Services’ course ‘Health, Safety & General Risk Assessment for the Care Profession’ identifies stress as one of the Top Ten hazards for those in the care professions.

The HSE publication ‘Work-related Stress - A Short Guide’ (which is downloadable for free from identifies six ‘work-related stressors’, i.e. sources of problems that can lead to stress.

The culture of an organisation can lead to poor communication and/or an atmosphere or recrimination; the demands of a individual’s job can ask more of them than time or their training allowthem to give; others may feel a lack of control over their work activities.

Other work-related stressors are: poor relationships with colleagues, including bullying and racial or sexual harassment; change, or fear of change, leading to insecurity. Insecurity is also a feature of people’s fears about their role at work and how they fit into their organisation.

The RCN ‘Working Well Survey, 2002’ used a psychometric questionnaire to determine the psychological health of members. This showed that 11% of nurses had a similar profile to people deemed to be in need of psychological therapies, but only half of these staff were receiving counseling or other treatment. These nurses also reported twice the level of sickness absence as other nurses in the survey.

Under the ‘Health & Safety at Work etc. Act, 1974’, employers have a duty to ensure that staff have a safe and healthy place in which to work, and this is as true of an employee’s psychological, as it is of their physical, health and safety.

EDGE Services’ ‘Health, Safety & General Risk Assessment...’ course relates the HSE’s guidance on ways and to address issues of work-related stress. As with so much in life the solutions are very simple: for instance, effective   communication enables organisations to make use of individuals’ ideas whilst showing that both individuals and their ideas are valued. Evidence suggests that employees who are able to express themselves are less likely to suffer from work-related stress.

Under Pressure – The Symptoms of Stress

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Constant irritability
  • difficulty in making decisions
  • aggressive tendancies
  • loss of humour/creativity
  • feeling the target of animosity
  • difficulty in concentrating
  • always/never talking about work problems
  • feeling panic-stricken or unable to cope
  • lack of interest in doing things after work
  • wanting to cry at the smallest problem
  • accident prone.

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • craving for food/alcohol
  • digestive problems
  • insomnia/constant tiredness
  • tendency to sweat excessively
  • nervous twitches, nail biting etc.
  • headaches/migraines
  • aches and pains due to muscular tension
  • breathlessness without exertion
  • fainting spells
  • impotence or frigidity
  • eczema/other skin problems
  • hypertension.
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