OH workers turning to drugs and alcohol to combat stress

OH practitioners are increasingly stressed, with some turning to alcohol or
drugs to cope with rising pressures.

The shock findings come from a poll of 129 people by recruitment firm OH
Recruitment last summer.

More than half of those questioned admitted to feeling stressed at work,
with two-thirds claiming their work environment had become more stressful over
the past 12 months.

A total of 88 per cent had taken five days or more off sick in the past 12
months, with 23 per cent blaming their absence wholly or partly on stress.

Worryingly, when it came to comparing those who felt they suffered from
work-related stress with those who did not, those suffering were twice as
likely to use alcohol and prescription or non-prescription drugs.

They were also nearly four times as likely to put their absence from work
down to the effects of stress and three times as likely to have experienced
increasing levels of work-related stress over the past 12 months.

A clear sign of the time pressures OH practitioners are working under,
emerged from the fact that just 13 per cent said they took a full hour’s lunch
break, and 47 per cent had a half-hour to an hour’s commute to and from work.
Those suffering from work-related stress were twice as likely to have an
average commute of an hour or more.

When it came to tackling stress, most preferred sports and leisure, although
alcohol, at 21 per cent, was high on the list.

For a minority of others, smoking and drugs, whether illegal or prescribed,
were their preferred method of winding down after a hard day.

OH Recruitment director Sue Lamb said: "The results suggest that
work-related stress is increasing for both the UK workforce and the OH
professionals charged with recognising and treating the symptoms, prompting the
question: who looks after the carers?"

The agency plans to carry out a follow-up survey later this year to
determine whether OH professionals have access to the same stress management
resources as other workers, and whether they are being used.

Key findings

1. Are you stressed at work?

Yes – 57 per cent
No – 43 per cent

2. Has your work environment become more stressful in the past
12 months?

Yes – 60 per cent
No – 40 per cent

3. How many days off sick have you had in the past 12 months?

Five days or more – 88 per cent
Six to 10 days – 5 per cent
11 to 15 days – 4 per cent
16 to 25 days – 1 per cent
26 days or more – 2 per cent

4. To what extent did stress contribute to this sickness?

Partly responsible – 17 per cent
Wholly responsible – 6 per cent
Not related – 67 per cent
Not applicable – 19 per cent

5. What methods do you use to combat stress?

Sports and leisure – 73 per cent
Alcohol – 21 per cent
Tobacco – 7 per cent
Prescribed drugs – 2 per cent
Illegal drugs – 1 per cent
Other – 52 per cent

6. What is your average daily commute time?

Less than 30 mins – 26 per cent
30 mins to 1 hour – 47 per cent
One to 1.5 hours – 20 per cent
1.5 to two hours – 4 per cent
More than two hours – 3 per cent

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