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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 6, 2009

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Managing stress is in everyone’s interest

Employers in Ireland have been urged to pay closer attention to staff

suffering from stress to prevent it from escalating into a major

problem for the individuals concerned, and their organisation as a

whole.

Irish minister for labour affairs, Dara Calleary, told delegates at the

‘Work Positive’ seminar, organised in Dublin by the Health and Safety

Authority on 5 May, that “stress is a fact of life, whether that be in

the workplace or outside of work, and we all experience some form of

stress from time to time. However, excessive stress that goes

unaddressed can lead to serious health problems for individuals. When

it comes to workplaces, employers need to recognise the signs and it is

in their interest to know how to deal with them.”  

HSA chief executive Martin O’Halloran explained that the Work Positive

tool provides various benefits for employers and employees to help them

deal with the issue. A risk-management process that helps organisations

identify and manage the major causal factors associated with workplace

stress, it was originally developed by the HSA with Health Scotland and

launched in 2002. It involves a confidential and voluntary employee

questionnaire designed to assess the source and possible levels of

exposure of individuals to six psychosocial hazards.

Said O’Halloran: “Stress-related illnesses can be very serious and just

as debilitating for individuals as a bad physical accident, so it’s

obviously in the interest of everyone to deal with it effectively. The

aim for employers should be to ensure that, at a minimum, workplace

activities are not unduly contributing to overall stress levels.”

The Irish Central Statistics Office reports that 13,000 people in the

Republic suffer from stress, depression and anxiety, while the

Department of Social and Family Affairs states that 1.7 per cent of all

occupational-injury benefit claims allowed in 2006 related to stress.

The keynote address at the seminar was given by Professor Michael

Leiter, from Acadia University in Canada. Professor Leiter works with

organisations internationally to help them enhance relationships,

encourage engagement and prevent employee burnout. Using research from

the education, health and public sectors, he outlined for delegates the

crucial aspects of what makes people happier, healthier and engaged at

work, as well as discussing current research on stress and ways to

prevent and manage it.

To find out more about the Work Positive process, click here

Pictured left to right are: Martin O’Halloran, Minister Calleary, Prof Michael Leiter, and Patricia Murray of the HSA

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