EU Job Safety Agency Launches Anti-Stress Campaign

Work-related stress affects an estimated 40 million employees in the European Union (EU), making it, after back pain, the second largest occupational health program for EU's 15 member states.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EASHW) launched a major campaign to combat this problem today (July 2) at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Luxembourg. The initiative forms the heart of EASHW's annual European Week for Safety and Health at Work and is the first EU-wide campaign to tackle work-related stress.

Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, and Anna Diamantopoulou, European commissioner for employment and social affairs, opened the campaign with the world's biggest "stress ball."

A number of major studies have revealed the scope of work-related stress in the EU:

  • Work-related stress affects more than 1-in-4 workers (28 percent) in EU member states.
  • Between 50 and 60 percent of absenteeism has been tied to work-related stress. Together with other related health costs, the annual bill for job stress in the EU is an estimated $20 billion, a figure that does not count productivity losses.
  • An estimated 16 percent of male and 22 percent of female cardiovascular diseases in the EU are due to work-related stress. Musculoskeletal disorders and mental health problems are two other diseases that result from job stress.
  • Lack of control over one's work is one of the most common causes of occupational stress. Thirty-five percent of employees say they have no say in the order of the tasks they must perform, and 55 percent claim they have no influence over how long they work.
  • Monotony, tight deadlines and bullying are other major factors that lead to work-related stress.

"The changing world of work and in particular the rise of job insecurity has made work-related stress one of the biggest safety and health challenges facing today's businesses," Cox said. "The European Parliament is fully committed to tackling this issue."

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