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Bringing stress to work can be fatal

British Safety Council

British Safety Council launches new film showing how stress can endanger workers’ lives

A POWERFUL new film launched by the British Safety Council shows how stress can lead to injury and fatalities at work. In any activity where concentration is vital for safety, such as working in construction or driving, stress can be fatal.

Stress is often discussed in relation to sickness absence. However, it is less reported how it can endanger lives. Some research shows that up to 80% of accidents are related to stress at work. Whether it is work-related stress or stress that people bring to work, stress can put at risk the safety of both employees and members of the public.


According to the Health and Safety Executive, in 2014/15, some 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill – representing 40% of all work-related illness.

Matthew Holder, head of campaigns and engagement at the British Safety Council, commented: ‘It is well documented that stress is a significant cause of sickness absence, undermining both productivity and profitability. What is less discussed is how stress can endanger lives. Evidence shows that stress significantly contributes to injuries in sectors such as construction and transport.

‘We made ‘The last word’ to warn people that being tired, distracted and unable to fully concentrate can make simple tasks like climbing a ladder more dangerous. Aimed at employees, it contains a warning that being stressed can endanger their lives. However, the film is also directed at employers, showing how important it is that managers and supervisors identify the symptoms of stress and help their staff to deal with it. As the film says, life can be stressful but people need to be aware of the danger signs.’

Information accompanying the film reinforces this message. It describes common symptoms of stress and actions that employees can take to reduce stress. The film is part of the British Safety Council’s ‘Speak Up, Stay Safe’ campaign, targeted at younger employees to raise their awareness of risks at work. It is the first time the campaign has tackled stress.


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