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15.4 million days lost to work-related stress in 2017/18

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Work-related stress and anxiety is the leading cause for ill health and sickness absence in Britain, HSE statistics today reveal.


There were 0.6 million cases of work-related stress, anxiety or depression in 2017/18, which accounted for 44 per cent of all the cases of work-related ill health in Britain. The other causes were musculoskeletal disorders (35 per cent) and other types of illness (21 per cent).

In total 1.4 million working people suffered from work-related ill health in 2017/18.

When it comes to the causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety HSE says workload pressures; including tight deadlines and a lack of managerial support were the main issues (44 per cent of all cases). Other causes included bullying (13 per cent) and organisational changes at work (8 per cent).

The report says 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2017/18 (Labour Force Survey) with an average of 25.8 days lost per case. In total, 57 per cent of all working days lost to ill health were due to stress and anxiety.

Education was the industry with highest average stress rates followed by health and social work.

The professional occupations category has statistically significantly higher rate of work related stress than the rate for all occupations.

Skilled trades, process machine plant operatives had statistically significantly the lowest rates of work-related stress.  For example, for the professional occupations category there were 2,090 cases per 100,000 people in 2017/18 compared with 600 cases for skilled trades.

Commenting on overall trends, the report says: “Rate of self-reported stress depression or anxiety (work-related) has been broadly flat [since 2001/2] but has shown signs of increasing in recent years.”

“The reasons cited as causes of work-related stress  involve workload, lack of managerial support and organisational change as the primary causative factors,” it concludes.

Commenting on figures, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Work-related stress is a growing epidemic. It’s time employers and the government took it more seriously.

“Warm words are not going to fix this problem. Managers need to do far more to reduce the causes of stress and support employees struggling to cope.

“This means tackling issues like excessive workloads and bullying in the office. Toxic workplaces are bad for staff and productivity."

The statistical bulletin, which was released on 31 October, also confirmed that work-related fatalities increased in 2017/18 to 144 deaths (compared with 135 in 2016/17).

It is the second worst year for fatalities in the past five year period, after 2015/16 in which 147 workers were killed. Self-employed workers continue to be disproportionately at risk, with 44 out of the 144 deaths last year being self-employed worker fatalities.

Fatal work-related illness included lung disease (12,000 deaths still recorded each year, linked to past exposures at work) and mesothelioma (2,595 deaths in 2016).  

It’s estimated that new cases of ill health (excluding cancer) cost the economy $15.6 billion in 2016/17.

HSE statistics on stress here
HSE statistics on ill health here

British Safety Council's comment on rise in workplace fatalities here

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