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Stress in the work place

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN. The 2002 European Week for Safety and Health at Work will focus on work- related stress. Work-related stress is common in the 15 European Union member states. Out of the 160 million workers in the Union 40 per cent report having monotonous tasks, 60 per cent complain of too tight deadlines, and 56 per cent complain of having to work very quickly. Work-related stress is reflected in a litany of health complaints. Thirty-three per cent of the work force (53 million workers) complains of backache, 23 per cent of neck and shoulder pains, 23 per cent of fatigue, 15 per cent of headache, and 28 per cent of "stress". It is estimated that work-related stress disorders cost the European economy about $265 billion annually.

Dr. Lennart Levi, Professor of Psychosocial Medicine at the Karolinska Institute, points out that every working individual is at risk for work-related stress. He says, "Every person has his or her breaking point." Dr. Levi emphasizes that the implementation of some rather basic management principles can go a long way in reducing work-related stress. Among them are:

  • allowing adequate time for the worker to perform his or her work satisfactorily;
  • providing the worker with a clear job description;
  • rewarding the worker for good job performance;
  • providing ways for the worker to voice complaints and have them considered seriously and swiftly.

Levi, Lennart. Spice of life or kiss of death? European Agency for Safety and Health at Work Magazine, No. 5, 2002, pp. 11-13

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