Stressing the positive

The European Week for Safety and Health at Work on 14-20 October this year
focused on stress, a problem said to affect more than 40 million European

While last year’s European Week for Safety and Health at Work concentrated
on the more tangible issue of the prevention of accidents, this year the theme
for the week, run by the European Agency for Safety and Health, and in Great Britain
by the HSE, was the more insidious, yet no less serious problem of stress at

As the HSE points out, more than 40 million people1 throughout Europe, and
an estimated half a million UK workers, report that they have been made ill by
work-related stress.

According to the campaign, work-related stress is not specific to one
employment sector, but is a universal problem, usually caused by poor work
organisation and design, which may include being made to work at high speeds,
an uncertainty about job roles and poor management.

Other risk factors include violence, verbal abuse from members of the public
and bullying.

The week – held in mid-October – focused on the psychosocial risks, with a
special emphasis on stress, was supported by a number of organisations,
including the TUC, CBI, IOSH, RoSPA, British Safety Council and BackCare.

During the week organisations both large and small, encompassing commercial
companies and public bodies throughout the UK and Europe, were encouraged to
take part by publishing features on stress in their company magazines, inviting
staff to suggest ways of tackling stress and even offering complementary
therapies to help destress their employees.


1. Paoli P, Merllie D (2000) Third European Survey on Working Conditions.
Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working

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