Work-related stress
Dr Malgorzata Milczarek
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Prevention and Research Unit
EU-OSHA
 The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
was established in 1996 in Bilbao to help improve
working conditions in the European Union
 EU-OSHA:

 identifies emerging risks (research)

consolidates knowledge (reports)

stimulates debate (seminars)


collects and disseminates
good practice information


organises raising-awareness
campaigns


develops and disseminates
practical tools
FOCAL
POINTS
EU Focal Points
Candidate & Potential
Candidate Countries
EEA/EFTA
Focal Points
Work-related stress: facts
 Work-related stress is one of the biggest
health and safety challenges that we face in
Europe.
 Stress is the second most reported work-related
health problem. EU Labour Force Survey (2007):


28% of workers reported that work negatively
affects their mental well-being
14% of workers who reported work-related health
problems, expirienced stress, depresion,
or anxiety as the main problem
 The number of people suffering from
stress-related conditions caused or
made worse by work is likely to increase
Work-related stress
 Stress: definition and causes
 People experience stress when they perceive
that there is an imbalance between the
demands made of them and the resources
they have available to cope with those
demands.
 Although the experience of stress is
psychological, stress also affects people’s
physical health.
 Symptoms of work-related stress
 Organisational:
o absenteeism, high staff turnover, poor
time-keeping, disciplinary problems,
harassment, reduced productivity,
accidents, errors, and increased costs
from compensation or health care.
 Symptoms of work-related stress
 Individual:
o
o
o
o
Emotional: irritability, anxiety, sleep problems,
depression, hypochondria, alienation, burnout,
relationship problems
Cognitive: difficulty in concentrating,
remembering, learning new things, making
decisions
Behavioural: abuse of drugs, alcohol, and
tobacco
Physiological: back problems, weakened
immunity, peptic ulcers, heart problems,
hypertension.
Research on emerging psychosocial risks
 The expert forecast on emerging psychosocial risks was
carried out in 2003 and 2004 by means of the Delphi method.
Mean values on the 1-to-5 point Likert scale and standard deviations
The 10 most important emerging psychosocial risks identified in the survey
6.00
5.00
4.56
4.38
4.25
4.25
4.19
4.00
4.13
4.07
4.06
4.00
Lean production
and outsourcing
High emotional
demands at work
4.00
3.00
2.00
1.00
0.00
Precarious
contracts in the
context of
unstable labour
market
Increased
workers'
vulnerability in the
context of
globalisation
New forms of
employment
contracts
Feeling of job
insecurity
Ageing workforce
Long working
hours
Work
intensification
Poor work-life
balance
Research on emerging psychosocial risks
 The main emerging psychosocial risks identified in the
forecast:

New forms of employment contracts and job insecurity
(the use of more precarious contracts together with the
trend towards lean production and outsourcing)

The OSH risks for the ageing workforce

Work intensification (high workload and work pressure)


High emotional demands at work (including violence and
bullying)
Poor work-life balance
 All of these risks affect workers’ health and safety. They
may lead to serious deterioration of mental and physical
health.
ESENER-PR
European Survey of Enterprises
on New & Emerging Risks –
Psychosocial Risks
2009
EU-OSHA research
 ESENER survey
 Europe-wide establishment ESENER Survey asks
managers and workers' representatives about how
health and safety risks are managed at their
workplace, with a particular focus on the workrelated stress, violence and harassment.
 Computer-assisted telephone interviews (“CATI”)
 2 questionnaires
 31 countries: 36,000 interviews (2009)
 41 national versions of each questionnaire
 “Enterprises” = both public and private sectors
http://esener.eu
How are the ‘new’ psychosocial risks such as stress, violence
and harassment being managed?
 Main concerns and causes

Level of concern about stress, violence and
bullying or harassment; what are the principal
risk factors (e.g. time pressure, poor
communication, job insecurity, etc.)?
 Measures taken

Ad-hoc or ‘reactive’ measures (e.g. training,
change to work organisation, work area
redesign, confidential support, changes to
working time, conflict resolution)
 Procedures in place

More formal or system based than ‘measures’,
e.g. procedures to deal with stress, with
violence or with bullying or harassment
Main concerns about workplace risks
Level of concern about various health and safety issues
% establishments, EU27
10 0
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
Major concern
Some concern
No concern
Bullying or
harassment
Violence or
threat of
violence
Noise and
vibration
Dangerous
substances
WR Stress
MSDs
Accidents
0
DK/ NA
Main concerns and causes
Concern regarding work-related stress
% establishments
100%
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
Major concern
Some concern
No concern
DK/ NA
IT
FI
LT
SE
NL
EE
HU
CZ
M
T
UK
SK
IE
BE
DK
HR
LV
CH
-2
7
ES
EU
E
TA L
L
31
TO
SI
LU
CY
FR
AT
DE
BG
RO
PL
TR
NO
PT
0%
Main concerns and causes
Concern about various psychosocial risk factors
% establishments, EU27
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Time pressure
Having to deal
Poor
w ith difficul
communication
customers,
betw een
patients, pupils, management
etc
and employees
Job insecurity
Poor cooperation
amongst
colleagues
Long or
irregular
w orking hours
Problems in
supervisor employee
relationships
Lack of
employee
control in
organising their
w ork
An unclear
human
resources
policy
Discimination for example due
to gender, age
or ethnicity
Procedures in place
Concern about work-related stress, bullying or
harassment, or work-related violence
% establishments, EU27
Health and social w ork
Education
Public administration and defence; compulsory social
security
Real estate, renting and business activities
Financial intermediation
Other community, social and personal service activities
Mining and quarrying
Transport, storage and communication
EU-27
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles,
motorcycles and personal and household goods
Hotels and restaurants
Construction
Electricity, gas and w ater supply
Manufacturing
0
Bullying or harassment
10
20
30
Violence or threat of violence
40
50
60
70
80
Work-related stress
90 100
Main concerns and procedures in place
Concern about work-related stress and existence of
procedures to deal with it
% establishments
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
Major/some concern
Procedures
IT
SK
M
T
H
U
LT
H
R
EE
N
L
CZ
T
A
IE
EL
BE
D
K
K
U
LV
SI
CY
FI
TO
C
TA H
L
31
EU
-2
7
LU
SE
ES
BG
O
R
PL
PT
FR
D
E
TR
N
O
0
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Work-related stress Dr Malgorzata Milczarek European Agency for