Everyone gets stressed at work.
You might have a deadline coming up or you are just taking too much on at the one time. The problem with stress is that it can severely impact on health and safety.
A survey of 1000 health and safety reps that was conducted by the TUC found that stress accounted for 70% of the problems in the workplace. In fact this has been a massive jump from previous years. If we break it down geographically, Northern Ireland is the most affected in the UK with a 13% increase in two years closely followed by the North of England (11%) and Scotland (8%).
Just how bad can stress be for health and safety?
What The Law Says
We have touched before on how legislation impacts health and safety at work and under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 employers have a duty to look after the welfare of their employees.
This includes managing stress.
Workplace strain and anxiety can lead to mistakes some of which can be costly depending on what sector your work in so there is a responsibility from the top down to manage stress effectively.
Stress Management Strategy
Implementing a sound plan for dealing with workplace stress can promote a happier and more effective workforce and one that is less likely to result in accidents or mistakes.
This can be something straightforward such as setting up monthly one-on-one meetings with employees to address concerns or simply get feedback on their roles and responsibilities.
It can also extend to changing duties and expectations to reduce pressure on individual employees or a team in an effort to combat stress and anxiety at work. Either way it is an important part of creating a happy and safe workplace.
What Employees Can Do
The onus isn’t just on managers to tackle stress – employees have a responsibility as well. The first step is to actually report that you feel under pressure regardless of whether it is affecting job performance as it is better to address these issues head on.
Communication is key and being honest about stress can prevent any health and safety problems down the line.
There are some things that employees can do to reduce stress by themselves however informing management is crucial to staying safe at work.
Stress And Healthy And Safety
Overworked and under pressure employees are more likely to make mistakes than workers who are content in their role.
Everyone will experience workplace stress at some point in their life however it is how you deal with it that matters. Bottling it up and trying to put on a brave face won’t help either yourself or those around you and can lead to serious safety concerns particularly if you work with machinery or with other people where they count on you for help.
Stress in small amounts can be good as it can help you focus and some people thrive in a stressful environment but make sure to address workplace pressure before it becomes a real health and safety concern.