“Workplace Stress: a collective challenge” is this year’s theme for World Day for Safety and Health at Work, taking place today on April 28.
To mark the day, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a report on “Workplace Stress: a collective challenge” that addresses workplace stress and its effects, ways to prevent it, how to manage hazards and risks, and “global trends”.
Many workers today face great pressure to meet the demands of modern working life, bringing about “psychosocial hazards” such as increased competition, higher expectations on performance and longer working hours. These contribute to the workplace becoming an even more stressful environment, and it affects all countries, professions, and workers in both developed and developing countries.
A national occupational safety and health culture is one in which the right to a safe and healthy working environment is respected at all levels, where governments, employers and workers actively participate in securing a safe and healthy working environment through a system of defined rights, responsibilities and duties, and where the highest priority is accorded to the principle of prevention.
According to the report, stress impact can vary according to individuals. High stress levels can contribute to developing health-related impairments and unhealthy coping behaviours such as alcohol and drug abuse, increased cigarette smoking, unhealthy diet, and sleeping disorders. Health impairments may include burnout, depression and anxiety, and even suicide.
Moreover, the report notes that stress in the workplace can also impact productivity and economic costs. Psychosocial hazards and work-related stress are associated with increased absenteeism, reduced motivation and commitment, staff turnover and intention to quit, and reduce efficiency and accuracy in performance. These problems can subsequently affect the productivity, competitiveness, and public image of the company itself. In addition to that, it’s important for employers to reduce workplace stress to adhere to international labour laws.
ILO’s presentation on workplace stress also highlights some important steps that workplaces can take to prevent and control the causes of work-related stress, including:
- Improve the coping ability of workers by increasing their control over their tasks;
- Enhance organizational communication.
- Allow workers’ participation in decision making.
- Build up social support systems for workers within the workplace.
- Take into account the interrelation between working and living conditions.
ILO has celebrated World Day for Safety and Health at Work every year since 2003 in an attempt to promote prevention of workplace incidents, injuries and fatalities. The day coincides with Workers Memorial Day and is a global event celebrating the importance of workplace safety and health worldwide.
More information about the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers’ Memorial Day can be accessed online.
Image credit: International Labour Organisation (ILO)