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May 8, 2015

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Third of workforce concerned over work-related health issues

entrepreneur-593357_640A third of UK workers have concerns over the possibility of suffering from physical or mental health problems at work, a recent national survey has found.

The survey, which polled 1,755 adults aged 25 – 64, found that the majority of respondents reported being worried about occupational health issues caused by stationary desk work, with the most commonly cited issues including work-related stress, eye strain due to screen work, and neck and back injuries.

Participants were asked to choose their top two safety concerns in the workplace from the following options:

  • work-related stress,
  • eyestrain due to screen work,
  • back and neck injury,
  • RSI (repetitive injury strain),
  • slipping or tripping,
  • falling from a height, and
  • none of the above.

The graph below shows the top concerns of the participants:

Health concerns graph

Over a third of younger professionals in the 25-44 age bracket were most concerned about safety risks associated with desk work. However, just over a quarter of UK workers aged 45 and above were concerned about the same health risks.

This is surprising, as a Labour Force survey from HSE shows the 45+ demographic are most susceptible to work-related stress, eye strain, and back and neck injuries.

Robert Winsloe, managing director at health and safety consultancy Arinite, says, “This goes back to the old adage about ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. If an employee experiences health and safety concerns in the workplace and is willing to report it there is a good chance something will be done to address the problem.

“Conversely, if young workers experience health and safety issues but feel they cannot report it for fear of losing their jobs then the reporting incidence would be lower and the concern about it higher as it has yet to be reported and addressed.”

Don Klosterman, Director at Alignmed, says, “One of the biggest issues for workplace safety is poor posture and balance. Sedentary workers are under attack by sitting, which is essentially the new cancer.”

Regionally, Londoners have been shown to be as concerned about work-related stress as workers in Yorkshire and the Humber. However, data on the number of cases of self-reported stress, depression, or anxiety caused or made worse by work shows that more than twice as many people are affected in Yorkshire as in London.

Winsloe continues, “Stress levels are on the rise generally. Everybody working today is being asked to deliver way more than they were 5, 10 or 20 years ago.”

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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