International Safety: New Report Highlights Dangerous Coping Responses for Work Stress

July 17, 2008
UK workers are most likely to turn to alcohol, smoking and comfort eating to help them deal with the stress of their occupations, according to a new Stroke in Business report from the Stroke Association, published in association with Siemens.

The report highlights the high levels of stress felt in many industries and the often unhealthy ways in which workers respond. The Stroke in Business report calls for UK employers to do more to encourage employees to use exercise to de-stress.

The Stroke in Business report found that 73 percent of the UK workforce feels stress as a result of work, with the most common ways of dealing with stress being to get angry (47 percent); eat more (43 percent); cry (38 percent); drink more (34 percent) and smoke more (23 percent). Many of these responses are likely to lead to increased blood pressure, which in turn can increase the risk of serious health problems such as stroke, the third highest killer in the UK. Exercise, one of best ways to combat and reduce stress, is used by just 13 percent of employees.

The publication of the Stroke in Business report coincides with the launch of Siemens Stroke for Stroke Week 2008, which challenges individuals to kick-start a regular exercise regime by signing up to row 10km, helping to raise funds for the Stroke Association.

Among those surveyed the recruitment sector was identified as the most stressful working environment, with 82 percent of recruitment consultants regularly feeling stressed, followed by the legal profession (78 percent), education (73 percent), marketing (71 percent), health (70 percent) and finance (68 percent). Housewives also made the Top 10, with 64 percent regularly feeling the strain of their daily work in and around the home.

Responses to stress differ widely between professions, with the report showing marketing professionals being the most likely to drink more (59 percent) and eat more (59 percent), although this group is also among the most likely to exercise (18 percent) to reduce its stress levels. The healthiest profession according to the research is IT, with over a quarter (26 percent) choosing to exercise more when stressed.

The ways in which we choose to deal with stress can have a serious impact on our overall health, explains Joe Korner, director of External Affairs for the Stroke Association. “Stress clearly affects a great deal of the working population,” says Korner. “While stress in itself is undesirable, responding to it in the wrong ways – for instance, by drinking excessive alcohol, over-eating or smoking – can all lead to high blood pressure, which is the single biggest risk factor for stroke. This is a major issue for people of all ages, especially those working in stressful occupations.”
Siemens hopes the Stroke in Business report and the Stroke for Stroke campaign will raise awareness of the importance of regular exercise.

“Regular exercise is absolutely key for individuals and businesses in maintaining a healthy, happy and productive workforce,” says Andreas J. Goss, CEO for Siemens in the UK.

Siemens Stroke for Stroke Week is taking place Oct. 27 – Nov. 2, and the company is encouraging people to sign up to row an individually sponsored 10km. The campaign is open to everyone across the UK; visit to sign up. LA fitness, the official gym partner for this year’s campaign, is offering free access to its gyms for everyone taking part in the campaign.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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