Stress overtakes MSDs in Britain’s workplaces

The frequency rate of work-related stress and mental health problems among workers in Great Britain rose in 2016-17 to 1,610 per 100,000 workers, according to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) injury and ill health statistics. This is the highest rate for at least the past 11 years.

Stress symptoms

Stress affects different people in different ways, and everyone has a different method of dealing with it. The chemicals that are released by your body as a result of stress can build up over time and cause various mental and physical symptoms.

Defining cases of work-related stress

Defining a case of work-related stress is complicated and is the subject of a 128-page report commissioned by the HSE. The conclusion drawn from the report is that no simple and universal case definition is possible, largely because of the complex nature of work-related stress.

The report suggests that stress should not be treated as an ‘illness’ but rather as a ‘process’, where the emotional experience of stress largely resulted from exposure to psychosocial hazards at work, and in the worst cases led to impairments of physical and psychological health of clinical and behavioural significance.

In terms of determining the presence of a case, the five critical elements of an epidemiological case assessment framework are:

  • the report of experience of work-related stress (or equivalent)
  • evidence of exposure to psychosocial hazards associated with work
  • evidence of the onset of a new condition of clinical significance or of the worsening of an existing condition of similar level of significance
  • evidence of a significant consequence, either in terms of absence from work or change in frequency of visits to a general practitioner (or treatment for ill health)
  • lack of evidence of any major confounding individual difference or circumstance.

Employers need to be proactive with employees to help understand what steps they need to take to proactively support their mental health so that you can focus on growing the business

Contact us should you require advice or assistance.


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