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Blown away
Stress and harassment. The top workplace health and safety problem. The least likely to result in enforcement action. This can't go on.
Hazards 148, October-December 2019

Mental problems
If your heart started misbehaving at work, you’d be glad there was a first aider on hand. So, a mental health first aider could be just the job if the problem is in your head, right? TUC’s Hugh Robertson says support for workers is a good thing, but mental health first aiders are not the only option and for union reps usually are not the best option.
Hazards 141, March 2018

Art lecturer Kate Rawnsley knew a succession of maddening management decisions were pushing her to the verge of a breakdown. She tells Hazards editor Rory O’Neill how college bosses denied repeatedly responsibility for her symptoms. But their ‘totally dehumanising’ behaviour would be exposed in court.
Hazards 140, October-December 2017

'Imagine you're a tree'
For the past few years there has been a growing trend amongst health and safety professionals to promote ‘well-being’. Unfortunately, rather than tackling the underlying causes of ill-health, the current fad for well-being leaves all the workplace hazards exactly as they are.
Hazards 140, October-December 2017

Tired out
Work-related fatigue can be very bad for your safety and your health. But Hazards editor Rory O’Neill says union safety reps can play a crucial role in stopping employers wringing ever more work out of fewer workers.
Hazards 135, July-September 2016

Distressing failure
Workplace stress causes heart and other chronic diseases, higher rates of sickness absence and suicides. So why, asks TUC’s Hugh Robertson, are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers have done ‘sod all’ to tackle the bad management practices at the root of the problem?
Hazards 128, October-December 2014

Workplace tyranny
A managerial offensive is taking place at work. Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde Business School explains how a government blitz on employment rights and welfare, driven by a spurious austerity argument, is being mirrored in a new workplace tyranny and a massive intensification of work.
Hazards 123, July-September 2013

Tough luck
A new resilience industry is invading the workplace, with a mission to make feeble workers ‘man-up’ and shrug off the stresses and strains of work. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson says he isn’t impressed with an approach that wants workers to be more resilient rather than workplaces more healthy.
Hazards 123, July-September 2013

Crying shame
Most of us have seen someone reduced to tears by work stresses. But crying can be just the start of it. Some workers get so distressed they opt for suicide. And workplace stress is geting worse.
Hazards 101, January-March 2008

Drop dead
It's the thoroughly modern way to die at work. Top occupational diseases of the 21st century will be heart attacks, suicide and strokes. Hazards argues that none of us should be worked into the ground.
Special online briefing, Hazards, 5 August 2003

Get a life!
Yeah, you've dealt with the chemicals, you are waist deep in risks assessments and the health and safety committee is tackling everything from soft loo roll to hard hats. And you still feel like a zombie. The Hazards factsheet says it is time to use our unions to get a life...
Hazards 78 Get a life! factsheet


Britain: Action call on mental health at work
The mental health problems afflicting many low-paid key workers have been highlighted by retail union Usdaw. A motion from the union to the annual Labour conference in Brighton called on a future Labour government to improve equality law and its enforcement, focussing on reasonable adjustments.
Usdaw news release. Labourlist. Risks 1016. 29 September 2021

Britain: Scottish ‘fair work’ includes right to disconnect
A decision by the Scottish government’s Fair Work Convention to back the ‘Right to disconnect’ in a major boost for Prospect’s campaign on the issue, the union said. A 23 September blog from the co-chairs of the Convention argues: “Boundaries between work and home life have become increasingly blurred for many, making it difficult for people to switch off.”
The Fair Work Convention blog. Prospect news release. Risks 1016. 29 September 2021

Britain: Huge care staffing crisis hurts mental health
The UK government’s failure to deal with the growing staffing crisis in social care risks worsening the mounting mental health toll on workers, UNISON has warned. Staffing problems are likely to become more acute in the coming few weeks as thousands of care workers leave their jobs because of new compulsory vaccine rules, the union said, adding added recruitment problems caused by low pay, Brexit and increased competition for employees in the post-lockdown economy, are putting even more pressure on those care workers who remain.
UNISON news release and related release. Prime Minister’s Office news release. Risks 1014. 16 September 2021

Britain: Royal Mail ‘group stress assessment’ agreed
Royal Mail Group and unions at the company have announcing agreement on an updated Work-Related Stress Management Toolkit. The new resource adds the ‘whole office/group/unit’ stress risk assessment process to the existing individual stress risk assessment.
CWU news release and Royal Mail Group – Introduction of ‘Whole Workplace/Office’ Stress Risk Assessment Process Tool and Updated Stress Toolkit, Guidance and Joint Statement. Risks 1012. 2 September 2021

Britain: Report backs right to disconnect
Working from home during the pandemic has caused an “epidemic of hidden overtime” that particularly affects women and demonstrates the need for a new “right to disconnect” law, according a report from the Autonomy thinktank. As part of the report, Autonomy proposed draft legislation that would create a right to disconnect, based on French law, which stipulates employees do not have to take calls or read emails related to work during their time off.
The right to disconnect, Autonomy, August 2021. Prospect ‘Right to disconnect’ campaign. The Guardian. The Mirror. Risks 1010. 19 August 2021

Britain: UCU member wins right to return to work
UCU has welcomed a decision by an employment tribunal ordering the University of Huddersfield to reinstate a senior lecturer, who it had ruled was unfairly dismissed. Earlier this year Jonathan Duxbury, 57, was successful at Leeds Employment Tribunal, after a multi-year legal battle following the university bringing in new rules which had an unfair impact on him.
UCU news release. Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 1008. 4 August 2021

Britain: Stress and fatigue causing farm accidents, study finds
Stress and fatigue have been identified as key causes of agricultural accidents, a study has concluded. The University of Aberdeen research team found that “lapses in situation awareness” related to stress and fatigue were a main contributory factor.
Farmers Weekly. BBC News Online. The Scotsman.
University of Aberdeen farm safety project and NTSAg website. Risks 1006. 22 July 2021

Britain: Stress fuelled by rise in worker surveillance in Wales
The rapid changes in work brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a sharp rise in the level of surveillance of people’s activities and performance at work and related stress, new Wales TUC research has revealed. The study found a quarter (25 per cent) of workers reported they have been subjected to closer surveillance since March 2020 and only 1 in 4 said that they feel comfortable objecting to such changes.
Wales TUC news release. Sarah Murphy MS comments. Risks 1005. 14 July 2021

Britain: Working from home is upping mental distress    
Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic has caused increased levels of loneliness and mental distress, according to new research into how workers have been affected by the crisis. The study by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) found that the biggest increases in mental distress and loneliness during the pandemic were felt by the most isolated group – those working from home and living alone.
NatCen webpage, research programme and Stay home: affecting lives briefing, July 2021. The Observer. Risks 1004. 7 July 2021

Britain: ‘Unbearable’ pressures face exhausted NHS staff
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid’s forecast that Covid cases could top 100,000 daily this summer as restrictions ease, will leave already exhausted NHS staff buckling under the ‘unbearable’ pressure, Unite has warned. The union said that there were serious questions to be asked over what it described as the ‘gung-ho’ easing of restrictions from 19 July unveiled by the prime minister on 5 July.
Unite news release. Risks 1004. 7 July 2021

Britain: Finance staff want homeworking but better support
Workers in the banking and finance sector would like a continuation of flexible working patterns, but are calling for more support to prevent isolation and mental health problems. In the first large scale homeworking survey of thousands of staff in the sector, Unite found that over 80 per cent of respondents would like to continue to work from home once restrictions end for at least part of the week.
Unite news release. Risks 1001. 16 June 2021

Britain: Health and care staff burnout at ‘emergency’ levels
Staff burnout in the NHS and social care has reached emergency levels and poses a risk to the future of services, MPs have warned. In a highly critical report published on 8 June, the Commons health and social care committee calls for immediate action to support staff who are exhausted from working throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Workforce burnout and resilience in the NHS and social care: Second Report of Session 2021–2, House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, 8 June 2021, inquiry webpages and news release. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 1000. 10 June 2021

Britain: ‘Exhausted’ ambulance staff consider action
North West ambulance staff are to hold a consultative ballot on possible action over concerns regarding a new work system unions say is leaving staff exhausted. Unite, the GMB and UNISON have called on bosses at the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) NHS Trust to change the procedure that can see ambulance workers called repeatedly to anywhere across the region with up to 40 minutes driving time.
Unite news release. Risks 1000. 10 June 2021

Britain: Amazon ridiculed over 'wellness chamber' for stressed staff
Amazon has faced ridicule after it announced plans to put ‘wellness chambers’ in its warehouses so that stressed workers can sit inside and watch videos about relaxation. In a now deleted video shared on its Twitter account, Amazon said the ‘AmaZen’ chamber would help staff focus on their mental health.
Motherboard. BBC News Online. AmaZen YouTube clip. Risks 999. 2 June 2021

Australia: ‘Huge step forward’ on workplace mental health
Australia is to introduce a new law to tackle hazards to mental health at work, in what unions have described as a ‘huge step forward’. Federal and state workplace health and safety ministers agreed the need for the new law in a move national union federation ACTU said will have a significant impact in preventing mental illness, sexual harassment and gendered violence in the workplace.
ACTU news release. We Are Union. Risks 998. 26 May 2021

Australia: Queensland emergency workers win PTSD cover
Emergency service workers in the Australian state of Queensland no longer need to prove they developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while on the job. In a big union win, the Workers Compensation and Rehabilitation and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2020 passed this month allows workers’ compensation claims by first responders diagnosed with PTSD to be deemed work-related so they can get immediate treatment and benefits.
United Workers Union news release. Risks 997. 19 May 2021

Britain: Mental health drive in haulage and logistics
Senior figures from across road haulage, warehousing and logistics have convened to determine how to tackle the growing mental health crisis in the sector. The 13 May roundtable, the first of its kind in the sector and chaired by Unite’s Diana Holland, also involved representatives from the mental health charity Mates in Mind and the Department for Transport (DfT).
Unite news release. Risks 996. 13 May 2021

Britain: Bargaining on mental health at work
Unless policies are put in place, increased home working and pressures placed on staff are liable to act as ‘detonators’ of mental health problems, public sector union UNISON has warned. In response, the union says its bargaining guidance is evolving to help activists meet the challenge at the negotiating table.
UNISON news release, related news release and new guide, Bargaining on Mental Health Policies. Related UNISON guidance: Bargaining over Workplace Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Bargaining on Leave Guide. Risks 996. 13 May 2021

Britain: Key workers were ‘anxious’ through the pandemic
Almost threequarters (74.2 per cent) of key workers felt anxious about going into work last year, an Usdaw survey has found. By far the biggest factor contributing to members’ anxiety is a fear of contracting the virus, the union said, with seven out of ten respondents identifying this as the cause.
Usdaw news release. Risks 996. 13 May 2021

Australia: Call for reforms to protect mental health at work
Australia’s national union federation ACTU has joined with mental health advocates and academics in a joint statement calling on federal industrial relations minister Michaelia Cash and her equivalents in state governments to support key reforms. They say the changes were recommended in both the Boland Review of Model WHS [workplace health and safety] Laws and the Respect@Work report on sexual harassment in the workplace.
ACTU news release. Joint Statement. Risks 995. 6 May 2021

Britain: Employment tribunal backs unfairly dismissed lecturer
A university lecturer from Yorkshire has won an employment tribunal, which found he was unfairly dismissed while working for the University of Huddersfield. Jonathan Duxbury, 57, was successful at Leeds Employment Tribunal, after a multi-year legal battle following the university bringing in new rules which had an unfair impact on him.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 995. 6 May 2021

Britain: RMT condemns outsourced Mitie over tracking app
Rail union RMT has demanded the withdrawal of a stress-inducing app that giant outsourcing outfit Mitie is attempting to force on staff and which would track their movements. Mitie is insisting staff download the app to their own personal phones, but RMT has condemned the imposition of the app without any consultation and is taking legal advice.
RMT news release. Risks 994. 28 April 2021

Britain: Care workers’ mental health has worsened in pandemic
A looming care workers’ health crisis is looming, the union GMB has warned, as new research found that threequarters of care workers have experienced worsening mental health as a result of their work during the pandemic. GMB’s survey of more than 1,200 care workers conducted between December and January found that 75 per cent say that their work during the Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious negative impact on their mental health.
GMB news release. Risks 994. 28 April 2021

Britain: Workers suffering mental health ‘epidemic’
Workers are suffering a mental health ‘epidemic’, a UK and Ireland-wide survey of Unite workplace representatives has revealed. Unite said there is a ‘clear link’ between the increase in stress brought on by the pandemic and called on employers to help prevent the crisis being carried forward as the country opens up.
Unite news release and full survey findings. Risks 994. 28 April 2021

Britain: Covid-19 heightening ‘always on’ work culture
Despite the sharp increase in homeworking and perceived flexibility benefits as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, more than threequarters (77 per cent) of employers have observed ‘presenteeism’ – people working when unwell – in employees who are working from home in the last year. The latest CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing at Work survey also found ’leaveism’ – working outside of contracted hours or using annual leave to work or when ill – is an issue, with seven in ten (70 per cent) employers observing this unhealthy behaviour over the same period.
CIPD news release. 2021 CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing at Work survey report. Risks 994. 28 April 2021

Britain: Workers want a ‘right to disconnect’
Almost 6-in-10 workers across the UK want to see a new ‘right to disconnect’ policy in the forthcoming Westminster Employment Bill, new polling from the union Prospect has found. Oveall, 70 per cent of those in Scotland and 59 per cent across the UK would support the policy, which would require companies to negotiate with their staff and agree rules on when people could not be contacted for work purposes.
Prospect news release. TechRepublic. Risks 993. 22 April 2021

Britain: Under pressure teachers being driven out of the job
The vast majority of teachers are overworked, worried about their wellbeing and blame the government for failing to listen to them, union research has found. Findings of the National Education Union’s (NEU) State of Education survey of more than 10,000 teaching staff reveal seven in 10 teachers, leaders and support workers reported that workload has increased over the past year, with almost all respondents — 95 per cent — worried about the impact on their wellbeing and over a third of respondents (35 per cent) said they would “definitely” no longer be working in education in five years’ time.
The State of Education: Poverty, the Pandemic and Recovery, NEU, 7 April 2021. Morning Star. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Unite warns safeguards needed on hi-tech work monitoring
Safeguards need to be fully implemented in the workplace to protect workers from the ‘unintended consequences’ of hi-tech monitoring, Unite has warned. The union was speaking out as more hi-tech monitoring equipment for construction workers was put on the market.
Unite news release. Technology managing people – the legal implications, Robin Allen QC and Dee MastersCloisters. A report from the TUC by the AI Law Consultancy, March 2021. The TUC AI manifesto. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Covid-19 linked to mental and neurological conditions
One in three Covid-19 survivors received a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis within six months of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a study has found. Professor Paul Harrison, lead author of the study, from the University of Oxford, said the findings “confirm the high rates of psychiatric diagnoses after Covid-19, and show that serious disorders affecting the nervous system (such as stroke and dementia) occur too.”
Maxime Taquet, John R Geddes, Masud Husain, Sierra Luciano, Paul J Harrison. 6-month neurological and psychiatric outcomes in 236 379 survivors of COVID-19: a retrospective cohort study using electronic health records, Lancet Psychiatry 2021. Published Online 6 April 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(21)00084-5. BBC News Online. Risks 992. 14 April 2021

Britain: Rising toll of work stress on NHS staff
The proportion of NHS staff in England who reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress increased by nearly 10 per cent last year as the Covid pandemic took its toll, according to the health service’s 2020 survey. The NHS Staff Survey 2020 found that 44 per cent reported feeling unwell as a result of work-related stress in the previous 12 months, compared with 40.3 per cent in 2019.
NHS Staff Survey 2020. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 989. 16 March 2021

Britain: High Court urged to overturn PM's Patel decision
The High Court must overturn Boris Johnson's decision that home secretary Priti Patel did not breach government rules on behaviour, a civil service union has said. The prime minister decided not to sack Ms Patel last year despite a report finding evidence of “bullying” and “some occasions of shouting and swearing,” leading the FDA to seek a judicial review of the prime minister's decision.
FDA report. BBC News Online. Risks 986. 24 February 2021

Britain: Virus-hit NHS workers face poor mental health
The prime minister must produce an NHS worker recovery plan, the union GMB has said, after its poll revealed the majority of the staff who contract Covid have since experienced poor mental health. The survey of more than 3,000 health workers in roles across the NHS, revealed 60 per cent of those who had contracted the virus said that the experience had either some negative impact or a severe negative impact on their mental health; in total, 30 per cent of those surveyed said they had caught the coronavirus with almost 60 per cent of these saying they passed it to a family member.
GMB news release. Risks 986. 24 February 2021

Britain: Steep rise in payouts for Scottish teachers
Details of personal injury compensation payouts to members of the teaching union EIS have been revealed, with the 2020 total more than double that for 2019. While the highest settlement of £200,000 was to a teacher who suffered serious injuries in an attack by a pupil, three of the highest awards – one of £90,000 and two of £60,000 – were for stress-related ill-health.
EIS news release. TES. Risks 979. 4 January 2021

Britain: Lack of trust in bosses exacerbates Covid mental ills
A survey over a thousand Scottish workers has found that Covid-19 has exacerbated a pre-existing lack of trust in employers when it comes to disclosing mental health conditions. The survey by the national union federation STUC found that workers’ mental health has been significantly affected throughout the crisis.
STUC news release. Risks 979. 4 January 2021

Britain: Union outrage at Priti Patel bullying inaction
Civil service unions PCS and Prospect have said it is ‘outrageous’ and ‘frankly unbelievable’ that home secretary Priti Patel escaped being sacked after a highly critical report into her behaviour. The report by the prime minister’s adviser on ministerial standards said originally that the home secretary had “not consistently met the high standards expected of her,” however Boris Johnson decided that the ministerial code was not breached by the minister.
PCS news release. Prospect news release. Ministerial Code. UK Constitutional Law Association blog. Risks 975. 28 November 2020

Britain: STUC survey uncovers Covid concerns at work
An STUC survey had exposed widespread Covid-19 related concerns in Scottish workplaces, including a looming mental health crisis. The research by Scotland’s national union body found the pandemic “has exacerbated a pre-existing lack of trust in employers when it comes to disclosing mental health conditions”. 
STUC news release and STUC worker safety website. Risks 974. 19 November 2020

Britain: Organisation not resilience tackles stressful work
Resilience, mindfulness or other ‘stress-busting’ initiatives aren’t the answer to stressful work – but organising in your union to tackle that stress is, the TUC has said. While measures to support affected workers are fine, “they ignore that stress is often a result of work itself, requiring a change to work structures, rather than a shift in the behaviours and attitudes of individuals,” points out TUC safety lead Shelly Asquith.
TUC blog. TUC and HSE joint guide to managing stress. Hazards magazine work stress resources. Risks 970. 24 October 2020

Britain: Virus harms mental health of two-thirds of workers
Two-thirds of workers said their mental health has been harmed by the coronavirus crisis, a new survey by GMB has found. In the poll of 13,500 public and private sector workers – thought to be the biggest of its kind during the pandemic – 66 per cent of respondents said that their work during the outbreak has had a serious negative impact on their mental health.
GMB news release. Risks 969. 17 October 2020

Britain: Covid-19 crisis hurting most retail workers
A major survey by the retail union Usdaw has exposed the damaging impact of the coronavirus crisis on the mental health of shopworkers. Usdaw’s ‘Impact of Coronavirus’ survey of 7,357 members, primarily essential workers, found that 70 per cent are experiencing anxiety and raised concerns with their employer.
Usdaw news release, Impact of Coronavirus report and mental health campaign. Risks 969. 17 October 2020

Britain: Women bear the brunt of Covid work stress
Women are being disproportionately affected by a rise in mental health problems caused by increasing workloads, as people do their jobs from home amid the pandemic. ‘Burnout Britain’, a report by the 4 Day Week campaign and thinktanks Compass and Autonomy, notes that women are 43 per cent more likely to have increased their hours beyond a standard working week than men, and for those with children, this was even more clearly associated with mental health problems.
Burnout Britain: Overwork in an age of unemployment, 4 Day Week Campaign, Compass and Autonomy, October 2020. The Guardian. The Independent. Risks 969. 17 October 2020


Britain: Scottish government urged to tackle teacher burnout
The heads and deputy heads running Scottish schools are facing a burnout risk from the “excessive” and “unsustainable” workloads they are facing, their union EIS has warned. The union said the additional workload demands being placed on school management teams (SMTs), compounded by ‘constantly changing’ official guidance, created a “risk to health in the current situation – stress-related illness as a result of ever-increasing workload, and increased risk of potential Covid infection as a result of working, often without physical distancing, with large groups of colleagues and/or pupils.”
EIS news release. Morning Star. Risks 964. 12 September 2020

Britain: Colleges must prioritise student wellbeing, NUS warns
Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the wellbeing of students, with 60 per cent of students reporting low self-esteem, a new survey from the National Union of Students (NUS) has found. Students are also more likely to have experienced feelings of isolation during this period, with 73 per cent of students interacting less with students from their institution, 72 per cent less with their course mates and 59 per cent less with their friends.
NUS news release. Risks 964. 12 September 2020

Britain: NHS Scotland workers at 'breaking point'
Scotland’s health service workforce is at ‘breaking point’, a union survey had found. The findings of the Unite Scotland survey of NHS Scotland workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, found a large majority of workers are suffering in the face of acute staff shortages, regularly work beyond their contracted hours and don’t feel valued by their employer.
Unite news release. Morning Star. Risks 962. 29 August 2020

Britain: PR workers face stress and abuse during pandemic
More than threequarters of public relations (PR) workers have been working longer than usual hours during the pandemic, with almost four out of five feeling more stressed than usual. Two-thirds told their union NUJ they have suffered abuse or had to deal with abuse because of their employer’s work during the pandemic.
NUJ news release. Risks 960. 15 August 2020

Britain: Concern over fatigue and anxiety levels in NHS staff
The mental and physical health of staff will be a major concern for leaders of NHS trusts as they prepare for the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, a report has concluded. The report from the NHS Confederation, the body that represents NHS organisations, is based on interviews with 13 trust chief executives conducted in May and June.
NHS Confederation news release. BMJ news. Risks 960. 15 August 2020

Britain: Teacher took her own life due to work stress
A young primary school teacher took her own life after struggling with job related anxiety which had increased after school staffing changes. Esther Leonard-Williams overdosed the night before she was due to return to the classroom after half term last October, an inquest heard.
Falmouth Packet. Cornwall Live. More on work-related suicide. Risks 958. 1 August 2020

Britain: Stress-out Covid nurses told 'lives would be made hell'
Hospital nurses were told their “lives would be made hell” if they complained over conditions on a coronavirus ward, UNISON has said. The union has raised a group grievance for 36 employees, most of them nurses, at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.
BBC News Online. ITV News. Risks 957. 25 July 2020

Britain: Mental health issues top of workers' lockdown concerns
Workers’ concerns about their mental health have increased dramatically since the lockdown began, a Unite survey has found. As a result the union is calling on employers to take a proactive approach to dealing with employees’ mental health challenges immediately, as workers return to the workforce and begin to adjust to revised working conditions.
Unite news release. Risks 947. 16 May 2020

Britain: Fall in university staff wellbeing a ‘wake-up call’
The number of university staff being referred to occupational health and counselling has shot up, a new report has found. The report, from the Higher Education Policy Institute, shows a drop in staff wellbeing at all universities that provided data, with all institutions showing increases in staff accessing counselling and occupational health services.
UCU news release. HEPI news release and report. Risks 946. 9 May 2020

Britain: NHS hotline as staff face coronavirus PTSD risk
The NHS has launched a mental health hotline to offer support to health workers after experts warned doctors and nurses on the frontline of the UK’s coronavirus epidemic could develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hundreds of thousands of workers who may need help will be able to call or text a free number staffed by more than 1,500 trained volunteers.
NHS Employers news release and helpline details. The Independent. Risks 942. 11 April 2020

Britain: Employers need to step up mental health support
Only 31 per cent of managers would feel confident to have sensitive discussions around mental health with workers, new figures from human resources body CIPD have revealed. CIPD is warning that employers need to act now to help prevent their employees from being at serious risk of mental ill-health during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
CIPD news release. Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the Covid-19 outbreak, WHO, March 2020. Risks 941. 4 April 2020

Britain: HMRC strike ballot over taxing working patterns
Civil service union PCS is holding an industrial action ballot of HMRC members working in personal tax operations in Bootle over the working conditions of staff undertaking telephony work. The union says it has highlighted to management that ‘relentless’ telephony work is having a damaging effect on members’ mental health.
PCS news release. Risks 937. 7 March 2020

Britain: Samaritans drop ‘bullying’ chief exec choice
The Samaritans charity has abandoned the appointment of its new CEO after media reports that the Alzheimer’s Society paid out as much as £750,000 to staff who signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) during his tenure. Jeremy Hughes, whose appointment was opposed by Unite, will no longer take the helm at the suicide prevention charity from May following whistleblower allegations that he displayed bullying behaviour to staff and presided over a toxic culture at the dementia charity.
Unite news release. The Guardian and earlier article. Samaritans January 2020 news release on Jeremy Hughes’ appointment as CEO. ThirdSector. Civil Society News. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Britain: RSPCA faces strike action over ill-treatment of staff
Staff at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) have voted for strike action over new ‘performance pay’ contracts. Unite said that its members had voted by 73 per cent to strike over the contracts, which the union states were being imposed arbitrarily by ‘bullying’ management.
Unite news release and open letter. Morning Star.
RESOURCES: Bullying at work: Guidance for workplace representatives, TUC, 2019. Risks 936. 29 February 2020

Switzerland: Nespresso workers won’t swallow more stress
Swiss union Unia has warned multinational Nestlé it will not tolerate changes that have left employees in the country’s Nespresso factories facing unbearable stress and fatigue. Members of the union demonstrated outside the company’s Lausanne base on 11 February to “denounce intolerable working conditions at the company's three Nespresso production sites in Switzerland.”
IUF news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: ‘Disturbing’ mental health picture in film and TV jobs
Dignity at work must be at the heart of measures to address the mental health crisis in the film and TV industries, the union Bectu has said. The union was responding to a ‘disturbing’ report from The Film and TV Charity revealing the extent of the mental health problems blighting the sector, which found almost nine in ten (87 per cent) respondents had experienced mental health problems, compared to two-thirds (65 per cent) of the UK population and 55 per cent had considered suicide compared to the national average of 20 per cent and 10 per cent had attempted suicide.
The Film and TV Charity news release and Whole Picture Programme. The Work Foundation news release and full report. Bectu blog and Dignity at Work campaign.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: RMT calls strike action on Bakerloo line
Tube union RMT has confirmed its members are set to take two days of strike action on the Bakerloo line in a dispute over the impact on train drivers of ‘unworkable’ timetable changes. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “The bottom line is that you cannot place intolerable stress and pressure on Tube drivers that impacts on their safety-critical role and that is what this dispute is all about.”
RMT news release. Risks 935. 22 February 2020.

Britain: Review confirms stress crisis in Scottish teachers
Scottish teaching union EIS has welcomed the publication of a review of the mental health and wellbeing of education staff. Commenting on the publication of findings of the NHS Health Scotland evidence review, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the “significant publication” highlights the absence of school-level interventions to support teachers' mental health, and makes clear that this failing can have a significant impact both on the wellbeing of teachers and, additionally, on the learning experience and educational outcomes of pupils.
EIS news release. Supporting teachers mental health and wellbeing, NHS Health Scotland, February 2020. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: ‘Toxic’ school environments bad for mental health
Excessive demands on education staff and the poor working practices they endure in schools and colleges are helping create a ‘toxic’ work environment, the teaching union NEU has said. The union, commenting on a UCL Institute of Education working paper published in late January, said the combination is leading to mental ill-health among both teachers and support staff.
NEU news release. Nuffield Foundation news release and UCL Institute of Education working paper. The Guardian. Personnel Today. Risks 934. 15 February 2020

Britain: Caring jobs linked to burnout and ‘compassion fatigue’
Social workers providing care and support to people in distress are at risk of developing compassion fatigue, which is a risk factor for a deterioration in their own mental health, according to a new study published in Occupational Medicine journal. The study found that compassion fatigue was a risk factor for the mental health of social workers and was also associated with higher rates of sickness absence, high staff turnover, low morale and impaired professional judgment.
G Kinman, L Grant. Emotional demands, compassion and mental health in social workers, Occupational Medicine, volume 69, issue 1, January 2020.
Special issue: Mental health and work, Occupational Medicine, volume 69, issue 1, kqz144, 31 January 2020. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Britain: Docs suffering from burnout and compassion fatigue
A study has found almost a third of UK doctors may be suffering from burnout, stress and compassion fatigue. A&E doctors and GPs are the most likely to feel burnt out and have the highest levels of exhaustion and stress, found the survey, published in the BMJ Open journal.
Nicola McKinley and others. Resilience, burnout and coping mechanisms in UK doctors: a cross-sectional study, BMJ Open, volume 10, issue 1, e031765, 2020. Risks 933. 8 February 2020

Global: Facebook and YouTube moderators sign PTSD disclosure
Online content moderators are being asked to sign forms stating they understand the job could cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in a bid by social media giants to avoid personal injury liability. The moderators were sent documents that required to them to acknowledge the mental health risks of the role, with the statement noting: “It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
The Verge and related article. Financial Times. BBC News Online. Technext.
RESOURCES: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide.
Hazards stress and mental health webpages and work-related suicide webpages. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Scottish teachers quizzed on workload burden
A campaign by Scottish teaching union EIS that secured a 10 per cent increase in teacher salaries last year also discovered severe workload was a major concern, making it a top priority issue for the union. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Following the success of the pay element of our campaign, the EIS has now refocused its campaigning work on tackling excessive teacher workload.”
EIS news release. Risks 932. 1 February 2020

Britain: Stressed out teachers strike at Bridgend school
Teachers at Archbishop McGrath Catholic High School in Bridgend have taken the first of four planned days of strike action this month over the ‘detrimental and inappropriate’ treatment of NASUWT members which the union says is affecting their health and welfare. Commenting ahead of the 15 January walk out, NASUWT leader Chris Keates said: “Members have reported extremely high levels of work-related stress and anxiety as a result of unrealistic expectations and unreasonable deadlines being imposed on them.”
NASUWT news release. BBC News Online. Wales Online. Risks 931. 25 January 2020

Britain: Hoax ambulance calls are stressing out call handlers
Ambulance trusts have been flooded with at least 42,000 hoax calls in just three years leaving overloaded staff stressed out, a GMB investigation has revealed. GMB national officer Rachel Harrison commented: “Like paramedics and ambulance workers, our NHS call handlers are desperately trying to save lives while years of Conservative cuts leave them underpaid, overworked and underappreciated.”
GMB news release. Risks 930. 18 January 2019

Britain: Treat bad workplaces to cure burn out
Evidence is mounting that applying “personal, band-aid solutions” to the rapidly evolving phenomenon of work-related mental problems and burn out may be harming, not helping, an expert has warned. Jennifer Moss, a committee member of the UN’s Happiness Council, said: “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses  are some of the most susceptible to burn out, and the consequences can mean life or death; suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public — 40 per cent higher for men and 130 per cent higher for women.”
Harvard Business Review. BECTU/Prospect news release. Risks 928. 21 December 2019

Britain: Union helps young musicians to deal with work stresses
The mental health of young musicians finding their way in the industry is a union priority, the Musicians’ Union (MU) has said. Among initiatives to support its young members, the union has now published the ‘Young freelancer’s guide to mental health and the music industry’.
Musicians Unions news release and guide, The Young Freelancer’s Guide to Mental Health and the Music Industry.
TUC resources: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress; Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives; TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace; TUC mental health awareness training; TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide. Risks 927. 14 December 2019

Britain: Action call as anxiety and suicidal thoughts hit seafarers
Seafarers are exhibiting dangerous levels of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts linked to the job, union-backed research has found. The new study by Yale University has prompted a call for action to the shipping industry.
Nautilus news release. ITF Seafarers’ Trust and The Seafarer Mental Health Study. More on work-related suicide. Risks 926. 7 December 2019

Britain: Action call on major civil service stress headache
Unions in the civil service want a new framework on health, safety and wellbeing that addresses the causes of work-related stress. PCS revealed the union plan after latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics identified a record high 602,000 workers in Great Britain are now suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with workload cited as the most common cause.
PCS news release. The Guardian. Risks 924. 23 November 2019

Britain: Stark warning to employers on the cost of work stress
Employers must ensure that they are investing in their people rather than paying lip service to addressing work-related stress, a mental health charity has warned. James Rudoni, managing director of Mates in Mind, said: “With the HSE’s report highlighting the challenges which work-related ill-health poses and the specific areas in which employers and organisations can work to be better and make a change - the report comes as an important warning that more organisations need to take action.”
Mates in Mind news release. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Meditation lessons ‘not the answer to brutal police cuts’
The roll out across England and Wales of meditation lessons to reduce stress for police staff does not address the long-term budget cuts that are the root cause of the problem, the union Unite has said. The union, which represents crime scene investigators, police dispatchers and other frontline support roles, said that a 25 per cent reduction in police staff numbers since 2010 has led to an “explosion of stress-related sick leave” that is “impacting on the effectiveness of forces as a whole”. 
Unite news release. The Guardian. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Britain: Record high stress shows bosses need to fix bad jobs
The root causes of record high levels of stress-related ill-health at work must be tackled by employers, the TUC has said. Policy officer Kathryn Mackridge said employers are increasingly signing up to “awareness days” and “wellbeing initiatives” without investing in the resources, policies and training to support the workers being harmed by bad management practices.
TUC blog. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain 2019, HSE, 2019.
TUC resources: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stress; Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives; TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace; TUC mental health awareness training; TUC health, safety and wellbeing guide. Risks 923. 16 November 2019

Australia: Mental illness is fastest growing workplace hazard 
Mental illness is the fastest growing workplace hazard in Australia and costs hundreds of billions per year, a Productivity Commission draft report has concluded. National union federation ACTU welcomed the commission’s recommendations on workers’ compensation, including no-liability treatment for mental health injuries and claims.  
ACTU news releaseProductivity Commission draft report, 31 October 2019. Related Productivity Commission videoRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: TUC guide on responding to work-related stress 
The TUC has issued updated guidance for trade union safety reps on work-related stress. The guide takes into account HSE last month conceding to union demands that it should also investigate cases of harassment and bullying where management’s wider organisational failings are a contributory factor. 
Responding to harmful work-related stress, TUC, November 2019. 
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concernTackling stress workbookstress management standards and other HSE workplace stress resourcesRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Record high stress shows bosses need to fix bad jobs  
The root causes of record high levels of stress-related ill-health at work must be tackled by employers, the TUC has said. The union call came as new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics revealed a shocking 602,000 workers in Great Britain are now suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, with workload cited as the most common reason.  
Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain 2019, HSE, 2019. TUC blog and resources: TUC guide to responding to harmful work-related stressTackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representativesTUC workbook on mental health in the workplaceTUC mental health awareness trainingTUC health, safety and wellbeing guideRisks 922. 9 November 2019

Britain: Northern safety reps meet to discuss best practice
Over 70 health and safety reps from a wide range of unions met in Newcastle in September to discuss union best practice in a vast evolving world of work, with work-related stress and mental health problems emerging as a key concern. In a report from Northern TUC, which hosted the event, the union body said that for the first time work-related stress, anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill-health in Great Britain.
TUC news release, blog and Health, safety and wellbeing guide. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Mental health ‘is a trade union issue’
The shopworkers’ trade union leader Paddy Lillis has highlighted the positive role of trade union workplace reps in supporting members experiencing mental health problems. Speaking on the 10 October World Mental Health Day, the Usdaw general secretary said his union’s ‘Time for Better Pay’ survey of over 10,000 workers found that 63 per cent report that financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release and It’s good to talk and Time for better pay (T4BP) campaigns. NUJ news release. More on the hazards of low pay and insecure work. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Ambulance staff facing ‘epidemic’ of mental ill-health
A survey of ambulance staff has revealed they are suffering mental health problems at ‘epidemic’ levels. The initial findings from Unite are based on responses from the 550 members have so far taken part in its survey.
Unite news release. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Britain: Mental health sick leave rises for emergency workers
Data from 57 fire, police and ambulance services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland has revealed the number of staff who took time off due to mental ill-health rose by a third between 2014 and 2018. The figures obtained by the BBC show fire and ambulance services reported an increase in the number of staff taking mental health-related absences - such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression and other stress - while police saw a slight drop in the last year after four years of rises.
BBC News Online. Risks 919. 19 October 2019

Australia: Safety reps ‘crucial’ as mental injuries soar
Australia’s national union federation ACTU is highlighting the ‘vital role’ occupational health and safety (OHS) representatives make in the workplace. The union’s campaign comes in the wake of its Work Shouldn’t Hurt survey this year, that found three in five working people had experienced mental illnesses or injuries like stress, depression, or anxiety at work as a result of their employer or workplace failing to manage poor working conditions.
ACTU news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Making the best of work in the worst situations
Workers in the police and justice services who work with the public in the best and worst of situations need their wellbeing and mental health to be protected by their employers, the union UNISON has said. Call management staff can face reports of missing children, murders or abuse in a day’s work, a combination the union said can lead to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues for police staff members. Dave Bryant of West Mercia police told the union’s police and justice conference that instead many workers face mental health being treated as a ‘capability issue’, rather than one of people in crisis. The conference called on the union to gather information on mental health related sickness and employers’ policies, to support police staff members and to develop advice and guidance for branches.
UNISON news release. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Union win as HSE relents on work harassment probes
In a move described by the TUC as a ‘significant advance’, new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance now says the safety regulator may act where an employer fails to address workplace harassment risks. The HSE investigation policy change comes three months after it was accused by the union-backed Hazards magazine of having an ‘enforcement anomaly’ and a ‘prevention blindspot’ on workplace harassment.
HSE ‘reporting a concern’ update, advice on How to report a work related stress concern, Tackling stress workbook, stress management standards and other HSE workpace stress resources.
Hands off: Time to take sexual harassment at work seriously and change the law, Hazards, number 146, July 2019. Risks 918. 12 October 2019

Britain: Push to get HSE to act on work-related suicide
A new campaign is calling on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to abandon its refusal to address Britain’s work-related suicide crisis. ‘Death wish’, a new report in the union-backed Hazards magazine, urges people concerned about the deteriorating working conditions fuelling work-related desperation and mental health problems to send an online postcard to the new HSE chief executive, Sarah Albon.
Death wish: Workers on the edge, Hazards, number 147, 2019.
ACTION! Use the Hazards e-postcard to tell the HSE to inspect for work-related suicide risks and to investigate and require the reporting of suicides suspected to be work-related. www.hazards.org/hsesuicide. Risks 917. 5 October 2019.

France: Toxic exposure anxiety ruling to be broadly applied
A French Supreme Court decision that gave workers exposed to asbestos the right to claim compensation for emotional distress caused by the fear of contracting a serious disease can be applied more broadly, a new ruling has indicated. In its September decision, the same court expanded the scope of the April 2019 compensation ruling to include all ‘harmful or toxic substances’.
Lexology. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Two-in-five have poor mental health from their job
Poor management practices, including most managers being required to put business interests ahead of employee welfare, are fuelling an increase in the ‘psychological harm’ experienced by staff, a major survey has found. The Business in the Community (BITC) survey found more than six in ten (62 per cent) of the managers surveyed said they had to put their company’s interests above staff wellbeing.
BITC news release and report, Time to take ownership, 26 September 2019. Risks 916. 28 September 2019

Britain: Report spurs union push for secure university jobs
Action is needed to reduce the use of stress-inducing fixed-term contracts for university researchers, the education union UCU has said. The union, responding to a new Researcher Development Concordat, said the ‘huge levels of casualisation’ in universities was bad for staff and bad for students.
Vitae news release and Researcher Development Concordat. UCU news release. More on the hazards of insecure work. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Sleeper staff strike warning over ‘intolerable stress’
Rail union RMT has confirmed a combination of strike action and action short of a strike on the Caledonian Sleeper services after the operator, SERCO, reneged on pledges to address a raft of serious concerns raised by staff. Workers on the service say their working lives have been ‘ruined’, the union said, with staff placed under ‎’intolerable pressure’.
RMT news release. BBC News Online. Risks 915. 21 September 2019

Britain: Retail crime ‘epidemic’ leading to PTSD in shop staff
A hard-hitting report had called for action to stem the rising number of crimes against shopworkers and identifies widespread post-traumatic stress disorder affecting staff. Funded by The Co-op, the research undertaken by criminologist Dr Emmeline Taylor from City, University of London, uses data from the retail union Usdaw, industry bodies and government figures and calls on the government to urgently protect employees and to send a clear message that violence and verbal aggression will not be tolerated in shops.
City, University of London news release and full report. BBC News Online. Risks 914. 14 September 2019

Spain: Union warning on the ‘invisible’ workplace victims
Nurses providing hospital care, people delivering food to homes, domestic workers cleaning hotel rooms, office workers accumulating overtime hours, waiters and waitresses taking on two or three jobs to make minimum wage: no one would consider these to be dangerous occupations but, more than ever, they have become high-risk jobs in Spain. “Psychosocial risks are the great pandemic of this century and they are related to the precarious conditions of the labour market,” warns Ana García de la Torre, the occupational health secretary for Spain’s General Union of Workers (UGT).
Equal Times. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Explosion in mental health first aid at work
Britain is training record numbers of workplace “mental health first aiders” to confront a sharp rise in people expressing mental distress, though it confirms a TUC concern that evidence of success is mixed, according to a Guardian study. Requests sent by the paper to every FTSE 100 company show that these firms alone have trained more than 10,000 staffers, while mid-tier and even tiny businesses are appointing first responders who can be approached confidentially by those with depression, anxiety, stress and other conditions.
The Guardian.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question, Hazards magazine, 2018.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. More on work-related stress. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Stress-inducing failure bars flexible work to most
Flexible working is an important contributor to keeping staff happy and to turning down work stress, but many employers are still not getting this worker wellbeing message, the TUC has found. Nearly one in three (30 per cent) requests for flexible working are being turned down, according to the union body’s new poll.
TUC news release. Flex for All petition. Risks 913. 7 September 2019

Britain: Work-Stress Network conference, Birmingham, 23-24 November
The UK National Work-Stress Network 2019 annual conference “will focus on the tools and strategies needed by trade unionists to support their members, protect themselves and get employers engaged in tackling work stress to our make workplaces a safer place for all.” Speakers include top campaigner Hilda Palmer, barrister and academic Professor Diana Kloss MBE and Gail Kinman, professor in occupational health psychology at the University of Bedford.
Work-Stress Network conference, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS, 23-24 November 2019. Booking form. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Mental health problems now top cause of NHS sick leave
Mental health problems including stress, depression and anxiety are the most common reason NHS staff in England take sick days, according to latest NHS Digital statistics. Workers took a total of 17.7 million days of sick leave between December 2017 and November 2018, with almost a quarter, or 4.2 million, taken due to stress, anxiety, depression or other psychiatric illnesses.
NHS Sickness Absence Rates April 2019, Provisional Statistics, NHS Digital, published 22 August 2019. The Independent. The Metro. Risks 912. 31 August 2019

Britain: Man awarded payout for work harassment stress
A man who suffered harassment at his workplace so severe he considered taking his own life has been awarded more than £50,000 in compensation. After an employment tribunal ruled in favour of Wayne Hoch, 35, he expressed his relief that the matter was now closed and added that he hoped his case against Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrication Ltd would encourage others to take action.
In Cumbria. Mr W Hoch v Thor Atkinson Steel Fabrication Ltd: 2411076/2018 Employment Tribunal decision. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: Win for stressed out Serco sleeper train workers
Strikes threatening to halt Scotland’s sleeper trains could be avoided thanks to a significant breakthrough in negotiations. A circular to members from RMT general secretary Mick Cash reports that negotiations have now been productive, and management has agreed to fill all vacancies and recruit temporary staff to ease workload concerns.
Morning Star. Risks 911. 24 August 2019

Britain: MoD must pay PTSD sufferer £80,000 for unfair dismissal
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) must pay £80,000 in damages for the unfair dismissal of a woman who developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being bullied and harassed at work. The claimant, known only as “A,” was a civil servant with 10 years’ service at the MoD human resources facility in Cheadle Hulme, which she said had a “toxic” workplace environment.
Morning Star. MoD annual report 2018/19, 25 July 2019. Risks 909. 10 August 2019

Britain: Train sleeper staff vote for action over ‘intolerable’ stress
RMT members on the SERCO-run Caledonian Scottish Sleeper have voted overwhelmingly for both strike action and action short of a strike in a dispute over the ‘intolerable pressure’ on staff following the introduction of new fleet. Since the introduction of the new trains staff morale has sunk to an all-time low and RMT members have suffered workplace stress and mental health issues, the union said.
RMT news release. Risks 908. 3 August 2019

Britain: Bad behaviour by pupils and parents stressing out teachers
Teachers are under huge pressure to respond immediately to “incessant” emails from parents asking about their child's schooling, a report has found. The head of Ofsted has called for an end to what she described as an “instant response culture,” and urged both management and parents to support teachers in their efforts to do a good job in the classroom.
Ofsted news release and report, Teacher well-being at work in schools and further education providers, July 2019. TES News. The Guardian. The Independent. The Telegraph. Risks 907. 27 July 2019

Britain: Insecure university jobs bad for mental health
More than seven out of every 10 university staff (71 per cent) said their mental health has been damaged by working on insecure contracts and more than two-fifths (43 per cent) said it had impacted on their physical health, a survey by the union UCU has found. The union’s report, based on a survey of over 3,800 casualised staff, also warns that the widespread use of casual contracts is damaging the quality of research and the education students receive.
UCU news release.
Resources: Download the free TUC Education Mental health and the workplace workbook. More on the work-related health effects of insecure work. Risks 905. 13 July 2019

Britain: Scottish unions target work-caused mental illness
The struggle against work-caused mental illness was at the top of the action agenda for the annual youth conference of the Scottish Trades Union Congress. Delegates to the event, which concluded on 1 July, heard speakers draw parallels between physical injury at work and the impact of work on mental illness, and supporting moves to build the power of workers to challenge unhealthy working conditions.
STUC news release. Scottish government Fair Work agenda. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

Britain: Most Welsh teachers says work damaged their mental health
Threequarters of teachers in Wales claim their job has damaged their mental health in the last year, a survey by the teaching union NASUWT has found. Eighty per cent of teachers said they have experienced more workplace stress in the last year and 82 per cent have suffered from anxiety due to their work.
NASUWT news release. Risks 904. 6 July 2019

France: Court orders asbestos ‘psychological harm’ payouts
A court has ordered building products multinational Saint-Gobain to pay asbestos-related compensation to 130 employees at its specialised glass manufacturing and processing factory in Thourotte, France. According to the 3 June verdict of the labour court in Compiegne, the company must pay compensation of 20,000 euros (£17,800) to each worker for “psychological harm” resulting from their exposure to asbestos.
IndustriALL news release. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Stress and overwork undermine UK job quality
Overwork and stress are undermining attempts to improve job quality in the UK, new research from personnel professionals’ organisation CIPD has found. The CIPD said its research identified serious concerns about the demands of work and the impact it can have on people’s health; two in three workers (66 per cent) say they have experienced a work-related health condition in the last 12 months, with anxiety and sleep problems two of the most common issues reported.  
CIPD news release and UK Working Lives Survey. Risks 902. 22 June 2019

Britain: Sellafield Mitie workers contending with stress ‘epidemic’
A confidential survey of Unite members employed by Mitie at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site has revealed ‘shocking high levels’ of stress, mental ill-health, financial problems and bullying among workers. The survey found that 91 per cent of members said in the past year they had experienced stress at work.
Unite news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Britain: Workforce ‘stress crisis’ in Scotland’s colleges
A stress crisis is blighting the workforce in Scotland’s colleges, the education union UNISON has said. ‘SOS Stressed Out Staff, Scotland’s Colleges Stress Report 2019’, based the union’s survey, found over 50,000 working days have been lost due to stress in Scotland’s colleges over the last three years.
UNISON news release. Risks 901. 15 June 2019

Global: Burn-out classified as a work-related condition
Burn-out has been formally recognised as a work-related health condition by a UN body. A meeting of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) World Health Assembly in May declared burn-out to be an “occupational phenomenon”, a step that allows its inclusion in WHO's next edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
ETUI news report. WHO news release and QD85: Burn out, WHO International Classification of Diseases. Manila Bulletin. Risks 900. 8 June 2019

Britain: Soaring workloads and job insecurity hit university staff
Deteriorating working conditions were behind a 77 per cent increase in the number of university staff accessing counselling services between 2009 and 2015, according to new research. The report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says excessive workloads, a lack of job security and management demands are driving the surge in stress levels afflicting staff.
Pressure Vessels: The epidemic of poor mental health among higher education staff, HEPI occasional paper number 20, May 2019. UCU news release and ‘It’s your time’ campaign. Personnel Today. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Posties to ballot in defence of sacked colleague
Strike action by postal workers could be on the cards in the Birmingham area over the sacking of a delivery worker with medically diagnosed anxiety and depression. The man, who works at the city’s Shirley Delivery Office, was dismissed in February after his cumulative absences from these conditions reached an official company limit and triggered procedures that resulted in his dismissal.
CWU news release. Morning Star. Risks 899. 1 June 2019

Britain: Charity workers suffering stress ‘epidemic’
A confidential survey of members of the union Unite has uncovered an epidemic of stress-related illness and ‘massive’ mental health issues among people employed by charities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The survey found that 80 per cent of respondents said that they had experienced workplace stress in the last 12 months, while 42 per cent believed their job was not good for their mental health.
Unite news release. Personnel Today. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Britain: Use safety laws to tackle mental health issues
The journalists’ union NUJ is calling on its workplace reps to use health and safety law to improve mental health at work, urging them to send their managers emails with links to a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prevention guide. The regulator’s ‘Talking toolkit: preventing work-related stress,’ published late last year, takes managers through the steps they should take to assess the risk of stress to their staff.
NUJ news release and Creating without Conflict campaign page. HSE guide: Talking Toolkit: preventing work-related stress. Risks 898. 25 May 2019

Global: A good work environment is good for you
A good work environment with job control and job security doesn’t just help prevent mental illness, it also promotes positive wellbeing, according to a new study. Researchers from the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health found providing workers with greater job control, establishing supportive work environments and creating secure employment will prevent mental illness and improve mental wellbeing.
Jonathan K Fan, Cameron Mustard and Peter M Smith. Psychosocial work conditions and mental health: examining differences across mental illness and well-being outcomes, Annals of Work Exposures and Health, published online 13 May 2019.
Five ways to improve mental health and wellbeing in your workplace, and the TUC resources that will help you, TUC blog, 13 May 2019. Risks 897. 18 May 2019

Britain: PTSD 'crisis’ among police officers
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among police officers in the UK is far more common than previously thought, a new survey suggests. The Cambridge University study of almost 17,000 police across the UK found that 95 per cent of officers and 67 per cent of operational police staff had been exposed to traumatic events, almost all of which were work-related.
Cambridge University news release and report. Police Care UK news release. BBC News Online. Risks 896. 11 May 2019

Britain: No room for some teachers, while many teachers tethered
Deteriorating classroom conditions are seeing some teachers left without a permanent classroom and many at the mercy of electronic communications around the clock. The union NASUWT said teachers were being left without a classroom as a result of overcrowding, poor timetabling and deployment and insufficient or unsuitable specialist provision; the union also identified that nearly half of teachers say that work-related emails are significantly driving up their workload and invading their home life.
NASUWT news releases on electronic tethers and nomadic teachers. Risks 895. 4 May 2019

Britain: Teachers turn to medication to cope with work pressures
“Incredible” assessment levels are creating a “climate of fear” that is driving teachers to medication, the new president of teachers’ union NASUWT has said. Dave Kitchen said in “too many schools” accountability measures were “being used as a tool to control teachers.”
Morning Star. The Guardian. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Four out of 10 teachers plan to quit
Four out of 10 teachers say they will longer be working in education in five years’ time, a union survey has found. The National Education Union (NEU) said a further haemorrhage of staff could result from the “culture of fear” in schools. NEU’s State of Education survey of 8,600 members found most of those leaving blamed “huge workloads and excessive accountability.”
BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Safe staffing ‘vital’ for patients and frontline NHS staff
The lack of safe staffing levels on wards and in ambulances is putting patients and staff at risk, UNISON’s health conference has heard. Delegates were told understaffing was causing stress and anxiety, which in turn was leading to people leaving their jobs.
UNISON news release. Risks 894. 27 April 2019

Britain: Workload is damaging the mental health of university’s staff
Excessive workloads are taking their toll on the wellbeing of academic staff at Nottingham Trent University, with 94 per cent of academic staff reporting that their workload has a negative impact on their mental health. Nottingham Trent University UCU secretary Mark Weinstein said: “This damning survey lifts the lid on intolerable workloads at Nottingham Trent University and the damage it is doing to people's health.”
UCU news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: Rise in stress at work linked to poor management
Nearly two-fifths of UK businesses (37 per cent) have seen an increase in stress-related absence over the last year, with heavy workloads and poor management to blame, according to a new report. Personnel professionals’ organisation CIPD and Simplyhealth surveyed 1,078 human resources professionals and found heavy workloads were the top cause of stress-related absence, reported by 62 per cent of respondents, with the second biggest contributing factor ‘management style’, up from 32 per cent to 43 per cent in the last year.
CIPD news release. Risks 893. 13 April 2019

Britain: TUC Education mental health resources for reps
Mental health at work is big deal – which is why the TUC has produced an extensive range of resources to help union reps support members and address any work-related factors that might cause or exacerbate problems.
Courses: Search the TUC Education course directory to find a course near you.
eNotes: Sign up online – there is a mental health in the workplace eNote listed in the health and safety section.
Webinars: You will be able to sign up to the mental health at work webinar nearer to the 13 June 2019 broadcast date. In the meantime, you can listen to a big selection of earlier webinars.
Workbook: Download the free TUC Education Mental health and the workplace workbook. Risks 889. 16 March 2019

Britain: Firms failing to protect workers’ mental health   
Line managers are not being given enough support and training to protect the mental health and wellbeing of staff at work, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and Management Today have said. Their survey found 62 per cent of line managers are not receiving enough help from their organisation to support the mental wellbeing of their staff.
IOSH news release and white paper. Risks 888. 9 March 2019

Britain: Long working hours linked to depression risk
Working very long hours – 55 plus a week - is linked to a heightened risk of depression in women, a study has found. The observational study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health also found working weekends is associated with an increased risk in both sexes.
Gillian Weston and others. Long work hours, weekend working and depressive symptoms in men and women: findings from a UK population-based study, Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, published Online First, 25 February 2019. Risks 887. 2 March 2019

Australia: Work sexism damages women's mental health
Sex discrimination in the workplace has a damaging impact on women’s health, a study has found. The research, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, investigated the associations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging at work, mental health, and job satisfaction for women in male-dominated industries.
Mark Rubin and others. A confirmatory study of the relations between workplace sexism, sense of belonging, mental health, and job satisfaction among women in male‐dominated industries, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, February 2019. Related project website, including full text of the article. EurekAlert. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Universal Credit workers irked by unmanageable workloads
Up to 700 Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members working in Universal Credit in the West Midlands are voting on whether to take industrial action over high workloads and too few staff. The union says the ‘unprecedented’ decision to ballot staff in Universal Credit could mean strikes or action short of strikes takes place next month.
PCS news release. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Bad jobs equal bad mental health for shopworkers
An Usdaw survey of over 10,000 workers has laid bare the issues shopworkers are facing as a result of low pay, short hours and zero hours contracts and insecure work. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) said that financial worries were having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release, mental health campaign and Time for Better Pay campaign. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Radical change call to fix Amnesty’s ‘toxic’ workplace
Unite has called for a radical change in the senior leadership at Amnesty International following a damning report into the health and wellbeing of the workforce. The report by the KonTerra Group was commissioned following the suicides last year of staff members Gaetan Mootoo and Rosalind McGregor.
Unite news release and statement. Amnesty International news release. KonTerra (Wellbeing) Report and Amnesty International response. Morning Star.
Resources: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists, January 2018. Work and suicide prevention checklist, Hazards, 2018.
More on work-related suicide. Risks 885. 16 February 2019

Britain: Reality gap at BT on mental health support
Frustrated CWU union reps have raised disturbing examples of how workers with mental health problems are continuing to be failed by unsympathetic managers and inflexible processes in BT and Openreach. The union says that despite general agreement that BT’s group-level policies and online advice for those undergoing mental health crises are industry-leading, speaker after speaker at a special CWU branch forum cited ‘troubling examples of how fine words are all too often not being put into practice’ – with sometimes devastating consequences for those affected.
CWU news release. Risks 884. 9 February 2019

Britain: Chronic stress 40 per cent higher in working mums
Biological markers for chronic stress are 40 per cent higher in women bringing up two children while working full-time, new research has found. Working from home and flexitime have no effect on their level of chronic stress – only putting in fewer hours at work helps, according to the study published in the British Sociological Association journal Sociology.
Essex University ISER news release. The Independent. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: Community calls for rethink on mental health at work
The union Community has called for an urgent rethink on mental health at work that recognises the ‘critical role’ of trade unions. The union was speaking out as the Changing Work Centre, a joint research initiative of Community and the Fabian Society, launched a new ‘Minds at Work: making mental health a priority in the changing world of work’ report.
Community news release and Minds at Work report, January 2019.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 883. 2 February 2019

Britain: TUC warning on the dangers of disciplinary action
Most union representatives can vouch that when a member is subjected to disciplinary action it can be a very traumatic event. The TUC says sometimes the disciplinary process can take months before a decision is made, leaving the worker ‘in limbo’ and under prolonged stress – and is advising what union reps should do in response.
TUC safety facebook page and work and suicide guide. More on work-related suicide.
New: Hazards Campaign workplace stress and mental health resources. Risks 881. 19 January 2019

Britain: Workload leaves teachers stress out
Over 75 per cent of Scotland's teachers frequently feel stressed as a result of their workload, the union EIS has said. It says the ‘shock finding’ comes from an EIS survey of 12,000 teachers.
EIS news release. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: New ISO stress guide ‘is the last thing we need’
The new draft guide on stress being prepared by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is worrying and ‘total nonsense’, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on ISO’s proposed guidelines on ‘Psychological health and safety in the workplace’.
TUC blog. HSE Stress Management Standards.
TUC stress webpages. Hugh Robertson, Tough luck: Resilience - a case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards, 2013. Risks 880. 12 January 2019

Britain: Stress and depression hit firefighters post-Grenfell
The main reason for sickness absence in the London Fire Brigade (LFB) is now stress, anxiety and depression, Commissioner Dany Cotton has said. LFB has seen a "small increase" in the number of days taken off as sick leave over the last three years, the brigade's most senior firefighter said, but for the first time mental health has been the leading cause of the absences, she told the London Assembly.
ITV news release. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Britain: Work ‘resilience’ programmes stop ‘meaningful activity’
Workplace resilience programmes are of no proven value but could deflect energy from ‘meaningful activity’ researchers have warned. The initiatives, which are intended to bolster mental health and wellbeing, might not make any difference at all, according to the study published online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Norman Jones and others. Resilience-based intervention for UK military recruits: a randomised controlled trial, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, e-publication ahead of print, 19 December 2018. doi:10.1136/oemed-2018-105503
Hugh Robertson. Resilience: A case of pointing the finger and missing the point, Hazards magazine, 2013. Risks 879. 19 December 2018

Australia: Emergency workers in suicidal thoughts crisis
Police and other emergency service workers in Australia report suicidal thoughts twice as often as other adults and are three times more likely to have a suicide plan, a study has found. The research found one in three emergency service workers experience high or very high psychological distress compared to one in eight Australian adults.
UWA news release and Answering the call report executive summary and final report. Beyond Blue news release. Canberra Times. More on work-related suicide. Risks 878. 8 December 2018

Britain: Research exposes 'significant issues' with MHFA at work
Days after a plea was issued to government for ‘mental health first aid’ (MHFA) to become mandatory, new research has highlighted “significant issues around the lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns”. The University of Nottingham feasibility study, published by the professional body for occupational safety and health IOSH, found examples where staff felt unsupported and where, for example, they had co-workers contacting them outside working hours: there were significant issues around lack of clarity with boundaries and potential safety concerns for the trained person.”
IOSH news release and full report, MENtal health first aid in The wORkplace (MENTOR): A feasibility study, November 2018.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 877. 1 December 2018

Britain: Call to make mental health as important as first aid
Business leaders and unions have called for mental health to be given the same weight as physical first aid in workplace legislation. An open letter urging Theresa May to prioritise manifesto pledges to act on mental health has been signed by some of Britain’s biggest employers, including Royal Mail, WH Smith, Mace, Channel 4 and Ford, as well as the unions Unite, NASUWT and Community.
Mental Health First Aid England news release and Letter from business and union leaders. The Guardian. BBC News Online.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018.
Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE Research Report, RR1135, 2018. Risks 876. 24 November 2018

Britain: Study warns of link between burnout and mental harm
People feeling burned out at work are likely to experience symptoms of paranoia according to a new study. Pahl, chief executive of the Society of Occupational Medicine, commented: “It is important to ensure people experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition are supported.”
R Bianchi and L Janin. Burnout, depression and paranoid ideation: a cluster-analytic study, Occupational Medicine, published online 12 November 2018. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: New official work stress-busting toolkit is just a start
A new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) toolkit on tackling workplace stress has its uses, but won’t on its own lead to stress prevention, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson advised that “preventing stress is something best done collectively across the organisation, not just individually, and that in many workplaces the line manager has no power to make the kind of changes the toolkit suggests.”
TUC blog. HSE talking toolkit – preventing work-related stress and stress management standards. Risks 875. 17 November 2018

Britain: 'Audit culture' causing burnout in school staff
The Department for Education (DfE) has pledged to ease pressures on teachers in England, after it accepted the recommendations of a new report that said an “audit culture” in schools was causing anxiety and staff burnout without improving results. The report by the DfE’s teacher workload advisory group says teachers have to waste time producing data on their pupils, with the recording, monitoring and analysing of data being demanded by multiple sources, including local and central government, Ofsted school inspectors and multiple tiers of school management.
DfE news release and DfE Workload Advisory Group report.. NASUWT news release. Schools Week. The Guardian. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: No hiding place for bullies in the ambulance service
There should soon be no hiding place for bullies at the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), health service union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication of an independent four-month study found a third of staff had witnessed bullying, mostly of their colleagues, but of managers in some cases too.
UNISON news release. Independent report. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Mental health concerns in BT under the spotlight
Union reps in BT are continuing to press for urgent action at the telecommunications giant to address harrowing stress problems in the workplace. CWU assistant secretary Dave Jukes said: “All the indications to date are that BT is keen to work alongside the CWU to address just the sort of concerns that have been raised by branches – but the proof of the pudding will ultimately be in its actions, not words.”
CWU news release. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Work with safety reps to tackle stress, Prospect says
Civil service union Prospect has called on employers to work with safety reps to tackle record-high levels of work-related stress. The official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show stress-related absence is at the highest level since the regulator started routinely collecting the data in the early 2000s.
Prospect news release and guide to preventing work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Work stress is a ‘growing epidemic’, warns TUC
Warm words won’t fix the ‘growing epidemic’ of work-related stress, the TUC has said. The union body was commenting on figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on 31 October that show that across Great Britain 15.4 million working days were lost to work-related stress, anxiety and depression in 2017/2018 - an increase of nearly 3 million on the previous year and the highest level on record.
TUC news release. HSE news release and report, Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018, HSE, 31 October 2018.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives. More on work-related stress. Risks 874. 10 November 2018

Britain: Lack of clarity on BT changes causing ‘stress and anxiety’
BT managers’ union Prospect has warned the telecoms giant is creating “a perfect storm of stress and anxiety” among members by rolling out fundamental jobs restructuring without first agreeing the related changes to pay, terms and conditions with the union.
Prospect news release. Risks 873. 3 November 2018

Britain: Bigger push needed to reduce teacher workload
The government and the education standards watchdog Ofsted must do much more to reduce the crippling administrative burden on teachers, the union NEU has said. NEU’s latest survey of 11,341 primary and secondary teachers working in 6,908 schools found: “Unnecessary accountability tasks and measures previously enforced by government and Ofsted were one of the biggest contributing factors to teachers’ excessive workload and a major reason for many teachers leaving the profession.”
NEU news release. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Community mental health charter gets another sign on
Mitie Care and Custody Ltd has joined a growing list of employers from across the UK economy that have signed up to the union Community’s mental health charter. The union says its initiative sets out to get employers to make mental health a priority in their workplaces.
Community news release and mental health charter. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

Britain: Pay worries are damaging to mental health
A survey of over 10,000 retail workers has laid bare the issues that working people are facing as a result of low pay, short and zero hours contracts and insecure work, their union has said. Usdaw’s research found 92 per cent of respondents have seen no improvement in their financial situation over the past five years and nearly two-thirds of workers (63 per cent) say financial worries are having an impact on their mental health.
Usdaw news release, It’s good to talk mental health campaign and Time 4 Better Pay campaign. More on the health and safety risks of low pay. Risks 871. 20 October 2018

USA: Outrage as government sets faster poultry line speeds
Already overworked poultry workers will suffer more work-related repetitive strain injuries and illnesses as a result of a shock government decision to allow much faster line speeds, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) has warned. Debbie Berkowitz, programme director for worker safety and health with the National Employment Law Project, said: “Overwhelming evidence supports the conclusion that allowing poultry processing plants to operate with faster line speeds than allowable by law is inconsistent with the USDA’s waiver regulation, undermines the rulemaking process, violates the Administrative Procedure Act, and most of all, endangers both workers and consumers.”
NELP news release. Citizenvox. Food Safety News. Food Integrity Campaign blog. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Doctors hit by stress, burnout, depression and anxiety
A lack of resources has left UK doctors facing a ‘toxic’ work environment that is placing them at greater risk of work-related stress, burnout, depression and anxiety than the general population, a new study has found. The report by the Society of Occupational Medicine and The Louise Tebboth Foundation also found the incidence of suicide, especially among women doctors, GPs and trainees, is comparatively high.
University of Bedfordshire news release. SOM news release and report. NHS Employers news release. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: Stress is top workplace health concern, say reps
Almost seven in 10 (69 per cent) trade union health and safety union representatives say stress is a top health and safety concern they deal with at work.  The TUC’s biennial health and safety rep survey found bullying and harassment rated the next most common problem, and then overwork was a concern for 36 per cent of the 1,073 union reps who took part in the TUC’s survey followed by slips, trips and falls 31 per cent).
TUC news release, stress guidance and Safety representatives survey 2018. Usdaw news release. Personnel Today. Morning Star. The Mirror. Risks 870. 13 October 2018.

Britain: PCS call for mental health awareness and action
In the run up to World Mental Health Day on 10 October, civil service union PCS is urging all union branches to hold workplace events to promote good mental health – but is also calling for action to address the workplace causes. “The hard work of union reps in supporting individual members is valued and important, but we don’t want just a ‘sticking plaster’.”
PCS news release. Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 869. 8 October 2018

Britain: Overworked public service staff at ‘tipping point’
Public services support staff – including teaching assistants, hospital porters and police community support offers (PCSOs) – are doing more than 40 million hours of unpaid overtime a year and facing ‘intolerable pressures’, according to a report from UNISON. The union says the figure is the equivalent of 25,000 extra public service staff working full-time.
UNISON news release and We can’t go on like this report. The Mirror. More on the hazards of low payRisks 868. 29 September 2018

Britain: School staff buckling under intolerable stresses
Intolerable cuts, restructuring and rocketing stress levels are becoming the norm in UK schools, according to a survey of school support staff by UNISON. The study highlights a funding crisis the union says is having a ‘devastating’ effect on workloads and morale.
UNISON news release. Lessons in Austerity: A UNISON survey of school support staff, September 2018. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: The TUC wants to stop work hurting mental health
The need to address the factors at work that cause or exacerbate mental health problems must be prioritised alongside providing support for those affected, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Robertson points out that the newly updated edition of TUC Education’s ‘Mental health in the workplace’ workbook “places more focus on the need to link supporting individuals with the importance of preventing mental health problems being caused, or made worse, by work,” adding : “It also makes the role of the union representative clearer with more emphasis on changing workplaces.”
Mental health in the workplace, TUC Education workbook, 2018. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. HSE news release. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: Poor mental health at work 'widespread'
Poor mental health affects half of all employees, according to a survey of 44,000 people carried out by the mental health charity Mind. But only half of those who had experienced problems with stress, anxiety or low mood had talked to their employer about it, with fear, shame and job insecurity some of the reasons people may choose to hide their worries, the survey found.
Mind news release and Mental health at work gateway and toolkit on Workplace stress: fulfilling your responsibilities as an employer. CBI news release. BBC News Online. Risks 866. 15 September 2018

Britain: TUC repeats calls for prevention of mental health problems
The TUC has reiterated its warning that increasingly popular mental health first aid (MHFA) initiatives at work should not substitute for effective preventive action. The TUC’s comments came after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) research report confirmed there is ‘no evidence’ that MHFA training leads to improvements.
TUC blog. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, 2018. Risks 865. 8 September 2018

Britain: ‘No evidence’ mental health first aid works says HSE
While there is growing enthusiasm and government support for mental health first aid (MHFA) in the workplace, there is ‘no evidence’ it actually leads to any improvements, a new ‘summary of the evidence’ by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has concluded. It noted: “There is consistent evidence that MHFA training raises employees’ awareness of mental ill health conditions. There is no evidence that the introduction of MHFA training in workplaces has resulted in sustained actions in those trained, or that it has improved the wider management of mental ill-health.”
HSE publication alert. RR1135 - Summary of the evidence on the effectiveness of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training in the workplace, HSE, 2018. Hazards Campaign statement.
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 864. 1 September 2018

Britain: Mental ill-health at work increasing but firms ‘turn a blind eye’
Almost 30 per cent of businesses have seen an increase in the number of staff taking time off for mental health reasons but too many firms are still turning a blind eye, a business group has warned. Research conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and the insurer Aviva found one in three (33 per cent) business leaders have also noticed an increase in the length of time that staff are taking off due to mental health issues.
BCC news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Britain: Exam changes have hurt teachers and pupils
Changes to this year’s GCSEs and A-levels have damaged students’ mental health and increased teacher workload, according to a snap-shot poll by the National Education Union (NEU). Nansi Ellis, NEU assistant general secretary for policy, said: “Not allowing schools to sufficiently prepare has put staff and students under tremendous pressure and stress,” adding: “The government needs to learn from this and make sure that teachers and students are given the support they need.”
NEU news release. Risks 862. 18 August 2018

Europe: Union resolution calls for new stress rules
Unions in Europe are demanding new legal protection from workplace stress and ‘psychosocial risks’ (PSR). The call comes in a resolution from the Europe-wide trade union confederation ETUC.
ETUC news report and Resolution on action for combatting stress. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Japan: Monday mornings off suggestion to address overwork crisis
Japan’s government is to urge companies to give employees some Monday mornings off work in its latest attempt to improve the country’s overwork crisis. The economy, trade and industry ministry’s ‘Shining Mondays’ plan will help address the punishingly long hours many Japanese are expected to work, although similar voluntary schemes aimed at reducing people’s workload have been largely unsuccessful.
The Guardian. The Telegraph. New Zealand Herald. More on work-related suicide. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Britain: Yoga will not fix the NHS stress crisis, staff say
Stressed out hospital staff say they need system change and leadership support, not resilience training, to protect their health. In interviews with NHS staff in Bristol, journalist Hannah Vickers found ‘resilience programmes’ involving mindfulness, yoga, wellness and other noticeboard offerings, were even appearing more in personal specifications for jobs in NHS leadership roles.
Hannah Vickers, The Bristol Cable, 1 August 2018.
Hugh Robertson, Tough luck: Resilience - a case of pointing the finger and missing the point,, Hazards, Number 123, 2013. Risks 861. 11 August 2018

Korea: Workers told to ‘go home’ as stress takes its toll
While Japan famously brought the world the concept of karoshi, or death from overwork, South Koreans work longer hours, according to labour data. The South Korean police say work pressure plays a role in more than 500 suicides in the country each year, out of a national total of about 14,000.
New York Times. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Union raises mental health concerns in BT
Communications union CWU has started talks with BT aimed at improving the company’s approach to mental health at work. The union said it made the move after delegates at CWU’s annual conference highlighted difficulties workers with mental health problems have experienced getting the assistance and understanding they need from managers.
CWU news release. Risks 860. 4 August 2018

Britain: Study shows need for mental health policies at work
The provision of managerial support and help for employees with depression is linked to lower rates of workplace absenteeism, an international study has found. Findings published in the online journal BMJ Open bolster the case for active workplace policies on mental health, say researchers from the London School of Economics (LSE).
LSE news release. Sara Evans-Lacko and Martin Knapp. Is manager support related to workplace productivity for people with depression? A secondary analysis of a cross-sectional survey from 15 countries, BMJ Open, 23 July 2018. doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-021795
TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. Mental problems, Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, Number 141, 2018. Risks 859. 28 July 2018

Britain: Pupils up, but teacher numbers hit a five year low
The number of teachers working in state-funded schools in England has fallen to its lowest level since 2013, official statistics show, with a union warning the trend is fuelling teacher ‘burnout’. Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the teaching union NEU, said the government must boost pay and reduce workloads to address the retention crisis.
NEU news release. Department for Education statistics: School workforce in England. BBC News Online. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: Excessive workload and cuts hitting teacher morale
Only half of teachers in Scotland say they feel satisfied with their job, with a third saying they would choose a different career if they could make the choice again, according to a new report. The research, undertaken by the University of Stirling on behalf of the teaching union NASUWT, confirms that the pressures of excessive workload, cuts to pay and funding and attacks on working conditions are impacting on teachers’ morale and ability to provide the highest levels of education to children and young people.
NASUWT news release. University of Stirling Report - Teacher Workforce Survey in Scotland 2018. Risks 856. 7 July 2018

Britain: College staff consider quitting over workloads and stress
Over two-thirds (70 per cent) of further education (FE) college staff working in England have considered leaving the sector, as workloads rise and many suffer from stress, according to a poll by the National Education Union (NEU). Eighty per cent of respondents said their workload has increased over the last 12 months: 62 per cent said this increase was because there are fewer staff in their workplace, 35 per cent said they had to teach more hours, 34 per cent had new subject areas to teach and 31 per cent had more classes to teach.
NEU news release. Risks 855. 30 June 2018

Global: Work stress is more deadly in men
Having a stressful job is far more likely to kill men with heart and metabolic problems like diabetes than women, a study found. Men with heart problems are six times more likely to suffer an early death if they have a stressful job - even if they keep fit and eat a healthy diet – the research suggests.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Work stress and risk of death in men and women with and without cardiometabolic disease: a multicohort study, Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, Online First, 5 June 2018. The Guardian. The Independent. Daily Mail. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: ‘Severe’ workload is a huge concern for Scottish teachers
High workloads are putting ‘severe pressures’ on teachers in Scotland, the union EIS has warned. EIS survey findings, published ahead of its annual meeting, revealed increasing workloads and long working hours are having an impact on the well-being of teachers.
EIS news release and survey findings. Risks 853. 16 June 2018

Britain: Stressful jobs linked to deadly heart rhythm disorders
Having a stressful job is associated with a higher risk of a heart rhythm disorder, according to new research. The study found the most stressful jobs, linked to a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, are psychologically demanding but give employees little control over the work situation – for example, assembly line workers, bus drivers, secretaries, and nurses.
ESC news release. Eleonor I Fransson, Maria Nordin, Linda L Magnusson Hanson, and Hugo Westerlund. Job strain and atrial fibrillation – Results from the Swedish Longitudinal Occupational Survey of Health and meta-analysis of three studies, European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 30 May 2018. DOI: 10.1177/2047487318777387 Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: Firefighters are stressed out in underfunded Scottish service
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service is under-funded, leading to resource shortages and modernisation plans being put on hold, a report from the Auditor General has found. Denise Christie, regional secretary of the FBU in Scotland, the report highlights resource problems which have led “to increased pressures within the workforce and an increase in absence levels due to work-related stress.”
FBU news release. Scottish Fire and Rescue Service – Auditor General’s report and news release. Risks 852. 9 June 2018.

Britain: CWU to increase focus on mental health
Communication workers’ union CWU is to upgrade its approach to dealing with mental health issues at work. It says the growing prevalence of serious mental health issues affecting members in “an ever more stressful and demanding world of work” means a comprehensive strategy is now required to ensure the union can provide the best possible support for members and reps experiencing problems.
CWU news release. TUC workbook on mental health in the workplace. TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

Britain: New guide agreed on seafarer mental welfare
Seafarer unions Nautilus and RMT have agreed guidelines with the UK industry’s group to help shipping companies develop policies on the mental well-being of their seafarers. The advice agreed with the UK Chamber of Shipping comes as evidence suggests the suicide rate among seafarers is one of the highest of all occupations.
Nautilus news release and Nautilus, RMT and UK Chamber of Shipping guidelines. Risks 851. 2 June 2018

New Zealand: Union urges breaks for air traffic controllers
Many air traffic controllers in New Zealand have no guarantee they will get any toilet breaks while carrying out safety-critical roles controlling planes, their union has told a select committee. The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), told the education and workforce select committee that the change it was seeking to the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERA Bill) were “safety-critical”, to allow controllers to take a break during each shift.
NZALPA news release. Otago Daily Times. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: UNISON survey spots spike in health board stress
A health board in Wales has been urged to support its staff better after figures obtained by UNISON showed a spike in stress-related sick days. New statistics obtained by the union show Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) lost almost 77,000 days due to stress and anxiety last year - costing more than £5.4m.
BBC News Online. Risks 850. 26 May 2018

Britain: Unite gives reps the tools to tackle workplace mental health
Unite is taking action on mental health, which it says is a ‘key concern’ in the workplace. The union, which is running is running a series of mental health awareness courses, is also highlighting how bad management practices can be a major contributory factor to poor mental health.
Unite news release. Mental Health Awareness Week.
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Britain: More workers want mental health help but few get it
More employees are approaching their managers with concerns around mental health, but most companies are poorly equipped to respond, a new survey has found. An Institute of Directors (IoD) poll of 700 managers found almost four in 10 (39 per cent) had been approached by staff with such a concern but fewer than one in five firms (17 per cent) offered mental health training for managers. Risks 849. 19 May 2018

Global: How your workplace is killing you
The modern workplace can inflict potentially fatal levels of stress on employees, a succession of studies have shown. Stanford University Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of ‘Dying for a Paycheck’, argues that these practices don’t help companies – and warns governments are ignoring an emerging public health crisis.
BBC Capital. Dying for a Paycheck:  How modern management harms employee health and company performance—and What We Can Do About It, HarperBusiness, March 2018.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stefanos Zenios. The relationship between workplace stressors and mortality and health costs in the United States, Management Science, volume 62, issue 2, pages 608-628, 13 March 2016. Risks 848. 12 May 2018

Britain: Fresh Dial-a-Ride action over ‘impossible’ rosters
Workers at Dial-a-Ride have started a new series of walkouts after talks to resolve a dispute over the withdrawal of rest days and the imposition of new rosters failed to make progress. The dispute, which led to strike action in March, involves 120 workers who provide special needs transport for elderly people, the vulnerable and those with disabilities, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL).
Unite news release. Risks 847. 5 May 2018

Britain: Workers hurt in ‘crisis’ ridden justice system
Workers in legal aid and advice organisations are at breaking point, according to a survey undertaken by their union Unite. The union’s survey of members at over 30 advice centres, law centres and Citizen Advice centres found in 78 per cent of cases members reported that they now feel more stressed at work, with 1-in-3 being forced to take time off due to work-related sickness.
Unite news release. Risks 846. 28 April 2018

Britain: For too many, work is pretty miserable
More than one in every ten workers (11 per cent) report regularly feeling miserable at work and one in four workers (25 per cent) feel their job negatively affects their mental health, a study by the human resources professionals’ organisation CIPD has found. Jonny Gifford, senior adviser for organisational behaviour at the CIPD, said: “There are also many things employers can do that make a real difference – in particular, fostering better workplace relationships and giving employees voice and choice on aspects of their working lives.”
CIPD news release. Risks 845. 21 April 2018

Britain: Workload is getting teachers down
A ‘staggering’ 81 per cent of teachers have considered leaving teaching in the last year because of escalating workloads, teaching union NEU has said. NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The continual long hours spent on unnecessary work such as data collection for arbitrary government targets is not only demoralising but is unsustainable mentally and physically.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: School support staff struggling with increasing workloads
Teaching assistants, school administrators and other support staff are being made ill by increasing workloads as schools cut staffing to cope with budget cuts, according the union NEU. Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said: “If the government fails to find any more money for schools, children will start suffering as more staff go off sick with stress.”
NEU news release. Risks 844. 14 April 2018

Britain: Neglect of teachers’ health is ‘a national scandal’
Three in ten teachers (30 per cent) say they have turned to medication in the last 12 months to deal with the physical and mental toll their job is taking on them, a survey by teaching union NASUWT has found. The union says more than threequarters (78 per cent) of teachers report they have experienced an increase in workplace stress over the past 12 months, with more than four out of five (84 per cent) saying their job has impacted negatively on their health and well-being over the last year.
NASUWT news release. TES. Risks 843. 7 April 2018
TUC mental health awareness training. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Risks 843. 7 April 2018

Britain: Stressed-out psychologists demand mental health funding
Applied psychologists in the NHS lobbied MPs this week with an urgent call on the government to deliver on its promise to boost mental health funding. Their union, Unite, said workers in the service are suffering from “plummeting morale” and “stress and strain.”
Unite news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: UNISON takes on stress at Scottish council
UNISON is calling for action plan to be put in place to help Dumfries and Galloway council staff facing work-related stress. The public sector union’s survey of nearly 2,500 workers on the Dumfries and Galloway local authority found half of them had faced issues in the past 12 months.
BBC News Online.
Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Support staff in schools stressed out by staff cuts
Teaching assistants, school librarians and lab technicians are facing a soaring workload as staff are cut and they are increasingly expected to teach, according to a National Education Union (NEU) survey of over 1,700 support staff members.  More than half (54 per cent) of respondents reported they are carrying out more tasks that used to be performed by teachers, such as marking pupils’ work and data entry.
NEU news release. Risks 842. 24 March 2018

Britain: Traumatised prison officer gets payout for anxiety attacks
A Northampton prison officer has settled a case for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination against the Secretary of State for Justice after she was made ill when forced to work on a sex offenders unit. POA member Rachel McKail, 48, was made to work on the unit at HM Woodhill Prison in Milton Keynes, despite an agreement that she should not be asked to do so, due to pre-existing health concerns.
Northampton Chronicle. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: What should safety reps do about mental health?
TUC’s Hugh Robertson says support for workers is a good thing, but mental health first aiders are not the only option and for union reps usually are not the best option. The TUC safety specialist calls for a much broader approach in the workplace, “and that is best done in co-operation with the union.”
TUC blog. Is Mental Health First Aid the answer? Depends on the question. Hugh Robertson, Hazards magazine, number 141, 2018. Related article in the same issue: Work and suicide: A TUC guide to prevention for trade union activists.
TUC mental health awareness training. Risks 841. 17 March 2018

Britain: Stressed-out Anglican priests turn to unions
The unremitting demands placed on Church of England priests is leading increasing numbers to turn to unions for support. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the Unite’s clergy branch last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.
Religion News Service. Risks 833. 20 January 2018

Britain: Emotionally demanding work is stressing out GPs
The emotional impact of their daily workload and confrontational patients are among the key stressors for family doctors in England, a new study has found. The analysis of feedback from general practitioners (GPs), published in the online journal BMJ Open, reveals dysfunctional working relationships and unsupportive or bullying colleagues, combined with the fear of making mistakes, complaints, and inspections, are additional factors compounding this emotional labour effect.
Ruth Riley and others. What are the sources of stress and distress for general practitioners working in England?  A qualitative study, BMJ Open, 11 January 2018. doi 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017361 Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: 'Epidemic’ of teacher stress leaves thousands on sick leave
Teaching union NEU has warned of an “epidemic of stress” as research revealed that 3,750 teachers in England were signed off on longterm sick leave last year because of pressure of work, anxiety and mental illness. Figures obtained through freedom of information requests show a 5 per cent rise on the year before, revealing that one in 83 teachers spent more than a month off work in 2016/17.
The Guardian. Risks 832. 13 January 2018

Britain: ‘Alarming rise’ in teacher stress cases in Scotland
There has been a sharp rise in the number of work-related stress compensation cases among teaching staff in Scotland, the union EIS has said. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said the union had “observed an alarming rise in the number of cases of work-related stress illness and injury claims over the past few years.”
EIS news release. The Express. Sunday Post. The Scotsman. The Herald. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Britain: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer
An art lecturer driven to the verge of a breakdown by a succession of maddening management decisions has thanked her union UCU after she was ‘vindicated’ in court. Kate Rawnsley was bullied, shunted between successively worse classrooms, and then found her desk had been dumped in a skip, but her ‘cry for help’ emails to the college dean went ignored.
Unravelling: UCU helps vindicate stressed-out college lecturer, Hazards, number 140, December 2017. Risks 831. 6 January 2018

Canada: Unions calls for PTSD law to cover all workers
A union in the Canadian province of Ontario has welcomed a change to the law that will guarantee compensation to more workers suffering work-related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – but says the proposals should be extended to cover all affected workers. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says Ontario should follow the lead set by the province of Manitoba “and extend PTSD coverage to all workers.”
Ontario Ministry of Labour news release. OPSEU news release. ONA news release. Risks 830. 16 December 2017

Britain: Christmas jingles make nerves jangle for shop staff
Christmas music is part and parcel of the festive season for most of us, but there is evidence that over-exposed shop workers find it ho ho horrible. A survey of retail employees in the US and UK for Soundtrack Your Brand, part owned by Spotify, found one in six said Christmas tunes “dampen their emotional well-being.”
Soundtrack Your Brand survey. Michigan Live. Stuff News.
Usdaw’s Xmas guide for shopworkers. Risks 829. 9 December 2017

Britain: Workload is a major barrier to teaching as a career
Workload is the biggest barrier to young teachers making the profession their career, a conference organised by the teaching union NASUWT has heard. A real-time electronic poll of members attending the NASUWT young teachers’ consultation conference found more than four in ten (43 per cent) teachers say workload gets in the way of teaching being considered a career for life.
NASUWT news release. Risks 829. 9 December 2017

Britain: Stress epidemic due to 'always on' work culture
Britain is in the grip of a stress epidemic, with 82 per cent of Britons feeling stressed at least some of the time during a typical week, new research from AXA has revealed. According to the insurance giant’s Stress Index, stress in the workplace is strongly linked to the ‘always on’ culture, with almost three in every five workers (59 per cent) admitting to taking calls outside of working hours, while more than half (55 per cent) check their emails.
Axa news release. Evening Standard. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Britain: ‘Shocking’ levels of mental illness expose bad bosses
A confidential survey of workers employed by Mears in Manchester and the Mears-run joint venture Manchester Working has revealed ‘truly shocking’ levels of mental health problems and stress among its workforce. The findings of the survey undertaken by the members’ union Unite, were released on 13 November to coincide with the resumption of industrial action in a long-running dispute.
Unite news release. Risks 826. 18 November 2017

Global: WHO mental health in the workplace guide
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued an information sheet on mental health in the workplace. In a list of ‘good interventions’, it highlights the importance of workforce participation, noting the necessity for “involving employees in decision-making, conveying a feeling of control and participation; organisational practices that support a healthy work-life balance.”
Mental health in the workplace: Information sheet, WHO, 2017. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: National Work Stress Network’s annual conference, 25-26 November
The National Work Stress Network’s annual conference will be on the theme ‘Challenging poor employment practices - issues around work-stress in an increasingly demanding work environment.’ The organisers say the conference is aimed at union health safety representatives, trades union officials and shop stewards, human resources and health and safety specialists, and stress management consultants.
National Work Stress Network conference, Saturday all day and Sunday am only, 25-26 November, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rose Hill, Rednal, Birmingham, B45 8RS. Booking form. Risks 825. 11 November 2017

Britain: Mental ill-health sees 300,000 leave their jobs each year
Up to 300,000 people with long-term mental health problems have to leave their jobs each year, a report has concluded. The review makes 40 recommendations about how employers and the government can better support employees to remain at work, including the “government sets clearer expectations of employers through legislation, and makes Statutory Sick Pay more flexible to better support people with mental health problems to make voluntary phased returns to work where appropriate.”
DWP/DoH news release. Thriving at Work: a review of mental health and employers, an independent report for DWP/DoH, 26 October 2017 [pdf]. The Guardian. BBC News Online. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Protecting mental health need rights and resources
Government plans to improve mental health at work will founder unless cuts to mental health services are reversed and workers are given better legal protection, unions have warned. Garry Graham, deputy general secretary of the union Prospect, said the government could not ignore the impact of funding cuts and other “aggravating factors in the increase of mental health, such as increased workloads, long hours working and work-related stress.”
Unite news release. GMB news release. Prospect news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: 'Half of women' sexually harassed at work
Half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study, a BBC survey has found. The ComRes poll for Radio 5 live surveyed 2,031 British adults and found that 37 per cent of all those asked – 53 per cent of women and 20 per cent of men - said they had experienced sexual harassment, ranging from inappropriate comments to actual sexual assaults, at work or a place of study.
BBC News Online. Yorkshire Evening Post. Evening Standard. Huffington Post. Pump Handle. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: College pays out for stressing out lecturer
A college lecturer has been awarded £159,000 in damages in a stress compensation case against Bradford College. The judge at Bradford County Court found that art and design lecturer Kate Rawnsley suffered depression and anxiety resulting from the negligence of her employer.
UCU news release. Risks 824. 4 November 2017

Britain: Government cash to train 1m in mental health first aid
A new £15 million government programme will see up to 1 million people trained in basic mental health “first aid” skills. The campaign, designed and delivered by Public Health England (PHE), will help people assess their own mental well-being and learn techniques to reduce stress.
Department of Health/PHE news release and earlier PHE news release. MHFA news release and workplace webpages. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: High workloads ‘disastrous’ for teacher well-being
Scottish teaching union EIS has said low pay and high workloads are having a dire effect on the health and well-being of teachers. EIS president Nicola Fisher said teachers’ pay had fallen by 16 per in real terms, adding: “Workload is the iceberg of the education system. People think they understand the scale of the problem because they can see the tip of it, but unless you are experiencing it day in and day out, you cannot hope to grasp the full horror which lurks beneath the surface.”
EIS news release. Risks 822. 21 October 2017

Britain: Anxiety and depression rate in workers at record high
‘Moderate to extreme’ anxiety and depression among workers in the UK has hit a record high with 1 in 10 workers now affected, new figures have revealed. Research by the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) shows that rates of moderate to extreme anxiety and depression among employees has soared by 30.5 per cent since records began in 2013.
UKCP news release. The Independent. Risks 821. 14 October 2017

USA: Call to put people ahead of profits in poultry
Chicken has dethroned beef as the USA’s favourite meat. As demand increases, the industry’s friends in Congress are dusting off previously rejected proposals to dramatically and dangerously increase speeds on the poultry production lines.
The Hill. Confined Space. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Sexual harassment at work causes depression
Sexual harassment at work is bad for mental health, according to a new study. Researchers in Denmark found 1 per cent of more than 7,600 employees working for over 1,000 different organisations were sexually harassed by a supervisor, colleague or a subordinate, while 2.4 per cent suffered the same treatment from someone else they dealt with at work.
Maria K Friborg and others. Workplace sexual harassment and depressive symptoms: a cross-sectional multilevel analysis comparing harassment from clients or customers to harassment from other employees amongst 7603 Danish employees from 1041 organizations, BMC Public Health, published online 25 September 2017. The Independent.
TUC guide to your rights on sexual harassment, union reps’ guide to addressing sexual harassment and report, Still just a bit of banter?  Everyday Sexism Project and ‘shouting back’ platform. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Mental health staff on long-term stress leave soars
Soaring rates of mental health workers going sick through stress is a ‘real concern’, the union Unite has said. It added that many more working wounded will be ‘soldiering on’ despite being unwell.
BBC News Online. Risks 819. 30 September 2017

Britain: Spike in fire service long-term mental health leave
The number of UK fire and rescue staff taking long-term sick leave due to mental illness has risen by nearly a third over the last six years, figures obtained by the BBC have shown. In London, fire staff taking mental health leave has doubled since 2011/12.
BBC News Online. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: Union welcomes teacher workload initiative
Teaching union NASUWT has welcomed a joint initiative in Wales to tackle teacher workload. The new guidance, which involves the distribution to schools of thousands of posters and ‘concertina’ advice cards, is supported by the Welsh government, trade unions and education standards agencies in Wales.
NASUWT news release. Workload guidance in English and Welsh. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: One-in-eight ambulance staff fall sick with stress
Twelve per cent of all paramedics and ambulance health care assistants in England were sick due to stress or anxiety last year. The union GMB revealed a total of 2,468 paramedics and health care assistants – or one in eight workers – had to take time off due to stress.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risks 818. 23 September 2017

Britain: TUC to tackle mental health problems head on
The TUC will spearhead a major national campaign to increase public awareness of mental health problems in the workplace. The commitment came as delegates at the union’s annual conference urged the government to make understanding of mental health a priority.
Usdaw news release. Morning Star. Risks 817. 16 September 2017

Canada: First responders suffer mental disorders
Results from Canada's first national survey looking at operational stress injuries among first responders such as police, paramedics, firefighters and emergency call operators suggests they are much more likely to develop a mental disorder than the general population. The research, published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, found of the 5,813 participants, 44.5 per cent “screened positive for clinically significant symptom clusters consistent with one or more mental disorders.”
R Nicholas Carleton and others. Mental disorder symptoms among public safety personnel in Canada, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, published online, 28 August 2017. CBC News. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: One in three 'sick notes' for mental health
Nearly a third of fit notes issued by GPs are now for psychiatric problems. An NHS report says this makes them the most common reason for people to take time off work, ahead of musculoskeletal diseases.
NHS Digital news release and full report. BBC News Online. Risks 816. 9 September 2017

Britain: Report says seafarers’ mental health deteriorating
A report by Cardiff University into the health of seafarers between 2011 and 2016 has found that sleep quality has reduced in the period 2011‐2016. The research showed that fatigue scores for seafarers have risen over this period and there was also a deterioration in some aspects of seafarers’ mental health.
SIRC report  Nautilus press release. Risks 811. 5 August 2017

Britain: Charities forced to pick up the slack on mental health
Firefighters and police are turning to a charity for support for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) amid reports of managers mishandling the cases of mental health issues among their frontline workers. In the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and recent terror attacks, around 30 police officers and firefighters have contacted PTSD999 — which offers advice and treatment from people who have worked in the emergency services.
Evening Standard. Morning Star. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Unite backs call for safety drive on London buses
Authorities in London must ‘as a matter of urgency’ implement the recommendations of a London Assembly transport committee to drive up safety and reduce the stress and fatigue hitting London’s 26,000 bus drivers, Unite has said. The call on London mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) came after the committee’s report, ‘Driven to distraction’, identified long shifts, inadequate breaks and irregular shift patterns as causing high levels of stress among the capital’s bus drivers.
London Assembly news release and report, Driven to distraction. Unite news release. Risks 810. 29 July 2017

Britain: Ambulance service crisis ‘is putting lives at risk’
The Scottish Ambulance Service is so over-stretched it is ‘begging’ its stressed-out workforce to give up their holidays to put in extra shifts. Unite says the ‘dangerously overstretched’ ambulance service needed workers to provide overtime cover, with management pleading with some workers to step in instead of going on holiday.
Unite news release. Risks 806. 1 July 2017

Britain: Fire heroes struggle with ‘drastically cut’ counselling
Counselling services available to the firefighters who responded to the Grenfell Tower fire have virtually disappeared after cuts imposed by Boris Johnson during his tenure as Mayor of London. Firefighters’ union FBU says the number of counsellors trained to help firefighters process the traumatic scenes they witness on the job in the London Fire Brigade was cut from 14 to just two under Johnson, now foreign secretary in Theresa May’s minority government.
FBU news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Australia: Yoga and free fruit won't solve workplace stress
Perks like free fruit or yoga lessons at work might be nice, but they’ll do little to sort out stress at work. Australian National Mental Health Commissioner Lucinda Brogden said too many employers offer ‘positive extras’ and shirk the hard stuff.
Investment Magazine. Sydney Morning Herald. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Call for action on bullying at work
A strategic response is required to address the growing problem of bullying and harassment at work, UNISON’s national conference has concluded. National executive committee (NEC) member Andrew Anderson described “the health of our members” as the price of the government’s austerity agenda.
UNISON news release. Risks 805. 24 June 2017

Britain: Survey exposes growing workload pressure on teachers
A new survey has confirmed that workload pressures on teachers in Scotland are growing, with implications for morale in schools and on the learning environment. Scottish teaching union EIS found cuts to staffing, coupled with ‘significant’ changes to the curriculum and reforms to assessment and qualifications, are now pushing teachers ‘to breaking point.’
EIS news release. Risks 804. 17 June 2017

Britain: Mental health problems widespread at work
Public sector workers are more likely to feel anxious at work and take sick days for their mental health than those in the private sector, according to a new study. The charity Mind asked 12,000 UK employees about their mental health and also found 15 per cent of public sector workers - of which there are 5.4 million in the UK - said their mental health was poor, compared with 9 per cent in the private sector.
Mind news release. BBC News Online. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: Too much work plus staffing cuts equals stress
Staff at a privatised probation company are suffering high levels of stress as a result of intensive, high paced work and unrealistic deadlines, a joint union survey has found. Napo and UNISON are now calling on Purple Futures to follow Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines and establish a joint working group to oversee the stress identification and management process, and for this group to include adequate trade union representation.
Napo/UNISON stress survey report. Risks 803. 10 June 2017

Britain: ‘Exhausted’ teachers ready to quit
“Staggeringly high” numbers of teachers are ready to quit the profession, a leading education researcher has warned, as growing pressures placed on staff and schools make the job “just too big an ask”. Rebecca Allen, director of the Education Datalab think tank has become the latest expert to highlight what has been referred to as a “crisis” in teacher recruitment and retention.
The Independent. TES. Education Datalab. Risks 802. 3 June 2017

Britain: TUC concern over Tory mental health sticking plaster
The TUC has expressed scepticism about Conservative plans to ‘transform how mental health is regarded in the workplace’ while cutting mental health services and doing nothing on prevention. The union body was commenting on the Conservative Party election manifesto, which notes: “We will amend health and safety regulations so that employers provide appropriate first aid training and needs assessment for mental health, as they currently do for risks to physical health.”
TUC Stronger Unions blog and Mental Health in the Workplace workbook. TUC Touchstone blog. The Conservative Party manifesto 2017. Risks 801. 27 May 2017

Britain: Few with long-term mental illness are in work
Only 1 in 4 people with a mental illness or phobia lasting for 12 months or more is in work, according to a new TUC report. ‘Mental health and employment’ contains a new analysis of official employment statistics, and reveals while 4 in 5 (80.4 per cent) non-disabled people are in work, people with mental illness, anxiety or depression have substantially lower employment rates.
TUC news release and report, Mental health and employment. Morning Star.
HSE summary statistics for Grea-t Britain 2016. Risks 801. 27 May 2017.

Europe: Pilot mental health stigma could push problems underground
UK pilots have warned that proposed new rules could increase stigma around mental health in the sector and could push the problem underground. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) said rules proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a result of the Germanwings pilot suicide tragedy in 2015 could be counter-productive.
BALPA news release. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Tory mental health pledge worthless without cash
A Conservative election pledge on mental health mean nothing without a commitment to proper funding, critics have said. Theresa May said she would introduce a new Mental Health Treatment Bill and measures requiring large companies to train mental health first responders alongside traditional first aiders.
Conservatives news release. The Observer. BBC News Online. Morning Star. Risks 799. 13 May 2017

Britain: Union survey shows police staff are stressed out
Civilian police staff are struggling to cope with low wages and soaring workloads, a union survey has found. The poll, conducted by the GMB, revealed 70 per cent are stressed. More than half of the GMB members responding to the survey blamed their stress on poor management and an absence of leadership.
GMB news release. Risks 798. 6 May 2017

Britain: Health concerns hitting stressed-out teachers
Almost half of young teachers say mental health concerns could force them to quit the profession, research by the union NUT has found, with thousands citing heavy workloads and lack of support as a problem. The union’s survey of more than 3,000 teachers under the age of 36 suggests more than four in 10 (45 per cent) may choose to leave within five years.
NUT news release. The Independent. Morning Star. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

[drugs/stress/suicide]Britain: Teachers driven to drink and drugs by stress
Work worries are driving teachers to drink, drugs and the brink of suicide, a survey by the NASUWT has found. Over two thirds (68 per cent) told the union their job prevents them from giving adequate time to their partner, family and friends and over half (58 per cent) say their family and friends get fed up with the pressures that teaching puts on their relationship.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. The Independent. Risks 796. 22 April 2017

Britain: Work stress is a ‘critical’ issue for business
A top stress expert has told a union conference that workplace stress is a ‘critical business issue’ that must be addressed. Professor Cary Cooper, in a presentation to more than 100 Prospect health and safety representatives, said: “Socially unskilled managers have been shown to be a key issue affecting well-being at work.”
Prospect news release and conference papers. Risks 795. 8 April 2017

Britain: Cuts forcing social workers to ‘brink of burnout’
Social workers are struggling with heavy caseloads, longer working hours and going without lunch breaks, according to a survey by UNISON and Community Care magazine. Nearly half (48 per cent) of respondents said the volume of cases they were responsible for left them feeling ‘over the limit,’ and more than half (56 per cent) blamed staff shortages for their heavy workload.
UNISON news release and A Day in The Life of Social Work report. Risks 794. 1 April 2017

Britain: Stop blaming worker for work stress
Employers should concentrate on removing causes of stress at work rather than blaming their staff for getting stress out, the TUC has said. TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson was commenting after an HSE stress summit in London
TUC Stronger Unions blog and stress webpages. HSE stress webpages.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Suicide is a workplace issue
The UK is turning a blind eye to a major workplace killer, work-related suicide, the TUC has warned. The union body points to a series of reports this week highlighting how work factors can put large sections of the workforce at a greatly increased suicide risk, but there the problem is off the radar of the safety regulator.
TUC Stronger Unions blog. TUC guidebook on mental health in the workplace (registration required).
Sarah Waters. Suicidal work: Work-related suicides go uncounted and unaccounted for in the UK, Hazards magazine, number 137, 2017. Hazards quick guide to work-related factors linked to suicide.
Suicide by Occupation 2011-2015, Office for National Statistics, March 2017.
Dying from inequality, Samaritans, March 2017. Reducing the risk of suicide: A toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Crisis management in the event of a suicide: A postvention toolkit for employers, Samaritans/Business in the Community, March 2017. Risks 793. 25 March 2017

Britain: Thousands of stressed London transport staff receive counselling
Almost 6,000 Transport for London (TfL) staff have received counselling for issues including stress, anxiety and the trauma of witnessing of suicide attempts since 2010, it has been revealed. Finn Brennan, from the rail union ASLEF: “Tube drivers spend eight hours a day working in a small metal box deep underground while coping with the pressure of a demanding job.. it's not surprising that some suffer from stress or depression occasionally.”
City A.M. Evening Standard. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Campaign can’t gloss over health service stress
The glossy launch of Healthcare Science Week by NHS Employers masks a world of overwork, stress, plummeting morale and staff shortages in the NHS, Unite has warned. The union said its survey of healthcare science members paints a picture of a dedicated workforce ‘bending to breaking point’ under the weight of the NHS financial crisis.
Unite news release. Healthcare Science Week. Risks 792. 18 March 2017

Britain: Workers ‘stressed out’ in London Fire Brigade control room  
The workers who handle the London Fire Brigade’s 999 calls are dangerously stressed by a failing control system, their union GMB has warned. The union says workers operating the clunky Vision command and control system used for call line identification and caller location identification have found it is impeding their efforts to respond quickly to emergency calls.
GMB news release. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Teachers say stop talking, start acting on workload
Teaching staff already know they are overworked and want the government to get on and do something about it, their unions have said. The education unions were commenting after the long-overdue findings of the Department for Education’s Teachers' Working Time Survey – finally published on the TUC’s Work Your Proper Hours Day - revealed teachers in England are working on average 54.4 hours per week, with 93 per cent of teachers saying workload is a fairly or very serious problem.
NUT news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release.
Teachers workload survey 2016 and DfE webpages on reducing teacher workload and action plan. Risks 790. 4 March 2017

Britain: Probation union takes on workload pressures
Escalating workload pressures and the unreasonable expectations placed on workers in the probation service are being ‘confronted’ by the union Napo in a ‘3C’s’ campaign that also ‘challenges’ employers and ‘champions’ professional standards. The union notes: “Staff regularly report feeling under pressure to cut corners, meet unrealistic targets and report that they feel they are failing service users and ultimately the public, in achieving their objectives.”
NAPO news release. Risks 789. 23 February 2017

Japan: Union chief blasts mooted 100-hour overtime limit
Management and union negotiators in Japan are locking horns over how much overtime employees should be allowed to work during busy periods, as the government mulls a ceiling of 100 hours per month. After attending a meeting of the government’s Council for the Realization of Work Style Reform, union leader Rikio Kozu dismissed the 100-hour limit floated as “totally impossible.”
Japan Times. Nikkei Asian Review. Risks 787. 11 February 2017

Britain: NHS workers quitting over low pay and stress
Staff shortages in the NHS have shot up by 6,000 in 18 months, reflecting staff dissatisfaction with their working conditions, the union GMB has said. The Department for Health’s information service NHS Digital reported the number of unfilled posts increased by a quarter from 23,427 in February 2015 to 29,309 in September 2016 — the latest month for which figures are available.
GMB news release. Morning Star. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: Stress-inducing MPs need management training
Management training for MPs would help eradicate the widespread stress and bullying reported by their parliamentary staff, the union Unite has said. Unite said an underlying problem is that many MPs have no experience of managing their own employees before they are elected to the House of Commons.
Unite news release. Risk 786. 4 February 2017

Britain: New plan to help union reps banish work stress
A new TUC-backed guide us set to help trade union health and safety representatives tackle workplace stress. The resource, produced jointly with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), is designed to help union representatives work with employers to find practical solutions to work-related stress.
TUC news release. Tackling workplace stress using the HSE Stress Management Standards, TUC and HSE guidance for health and safety representatives, January 2017. Risks 785. 28 January 2017

Britain: School support staff are exhausted and stressed
Support staff in Scotland's schools are feeling exhausted, undervalued and stressed, according to their union. Announcing the findings of what it said was probably the ‘largest ever’ survey of school support staff, UNISON said its survey confirms the enormous stress this puts on support staff, with 40 per cent carrying out unpaid work because of high workloads, 80 per cent saying workloads have increased and 60 per cent saying morale is ‘low’.
UNISON Scotland news release and report Hard Lessons: UNISON survey of school support staff Jan 2017. BBC News Online. Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Physios set out to pinpoint the pressure
A new workplace campaign by the physiotherapists’ union CSP is aiming ‘to tackle growing and unreasonable workloads’. Launching the new ‘Pinpoint the pressure’ campaign, the union says rather than struggling alone, “we want to get you thinking about what you can do to support each other – and to help find improvements that could alleviate these problems.”
CSP Frontlines article and Pinpoint the pressure resource pack, action plan, message to managers and campaign webpage Risks 784. 21 January 2017

Britain: Incentive pay schemes make workers sick
Incentive-related pay schemes can stress rather than motivate employees, according to new research. The study by academics from the universities of East Anglia and Sheffield explored the relationship between three types of ‘contingent pay’ – performance-related, profit-related, and employee share-ownership – and positive employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, employee commitment and trust in management.
UEA news release. Chidiebere Ogbonnaya, Kevin Daniels and Karina Nielsen. Does contingent pay encourage positive employee attitudes and intensify work?, Human Resource Management Journal. Risks 783. 14 January 2017

Britain: Exhaust exposure caused post traumatic stress
An ambulance worker who developed a psychiatric condition after she was poisoned by carbon monoxide from a faulty vehicle exhaust has been awarded £280,000 in damages by the High Court. Solo responder Diane Kennedy developed post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) aster an undetected fault on her vehicle's exhaust system caused harmful fumes to leak into the driver’s compartment.
BBC News Online. The Mirror. Risks 781. 17 December 2016.

Britain: Patients suffer as doctors face excessive stress
Gaps in rotas, poor access to basic facilities and an ever-growing workload means junior doctors are experiencing high levels of stress in their roles – with 80 per cent reporting that their job ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ causes them excessive stress. A new report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) presents a bleak picture of the conditions junior doctors currently face and the impact this is having on patients.
RCP news release and report, Being a junior doctor. Experiences from the front line of the NHS, December 2016. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Britain: Union concern at ‘shocking’ public sector pressures
A new survey showing high levels of pressure and exhaustion among public sector workers exposes the impact of swingeing job cuts, the union GMB has said. The union said the findings of the CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook survey show “unacceptable” levels of stress afflicting workers in the sector.
CIPD news release and full report. GMB news release. Risks 779. 3 December 2016

Global: Unions condemn ‘unbelievable abuse’ by Clarkson
British TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson has been condemned for his ‘unbelievable abuse’ of an airport worker prior to a flight from Germany to the UK. Some observers have hinted that Clarkson concocted the story to gain publicity for his new TV show, which was launched later that week, with the Guardian noting: “The controversy happens to coincide with the debut of The Grand Tour on Amazon Prime on Friday.”
ITF news release. The Guardian and related story. BBC News Online. The Sun. Risks 778. 26 November 2016

Britain: Workplace stress drives cardiovascular disease
Economic globalisation may create stressful employment conditions in high-income countries, contributing to the worldwide epidemic of cardiovascular disease (CVD), a study has found. Peter Schnall and Marnie Dobson from the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Paul Landsbergis from the State University of New York (SUNY) say their study pulls together a robust body of evidence documenting the effect of the work environment, including psychosocial job stressors.
SUNY Downstate Medical Center news release. Peter Schnall, Marnie Dobson and Paul Landsbergis. Globalization, work and cardiovascular disease, International Journal of Health Services, volume 46, number 4, pages 656-692, October 2016. Risks 773. 22 October 2016

Britain: ‘Crushing workloads’ drive women out of teaching
Most women teachers report suffering mental and physical health problems caused by overwork, teaching union NASUWT has warned. The union said ‘crushing workloads’, gender inequality and attacks on their pay and working conditions are threatening to drive women out of the profession.
NASUWT news release. Morning Star. Risks 773. 22 October 2016.

Britain: Work stress at record levels, say safety reps
Stress is the top health and safety concern in UK workplaces according to a TUC study. Findings published by the TUC on 10 October - World Mental Health Day – indicate stress was at the top of the list in this year’s survey, with 7 in 10 reps (70 per cent) citing it as a problem – up 3 per cent since the last survey in 2014 when 67 per cent did so, and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study.
TUC news release and full survey results. Morning Star. Risks 772. 15 October 2016

Australia: Families plead for action on fly-in-fly-out deaths
Pressure on West Australia’s state government to take the mental health dangers to the army of fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) miners has escalated as family members of two workers who took their own lives presented a 4,800-signature petition demanding action. The union AMWU supported Sharon Johnson and Peter Miller when they went to the West Australia (WA) parliament to hand the petition to MP Graham Jacobs, who led the parliamentary inquiry into FIFO mental health that reported more than a year ago and that was prompted by a spate of suicides.
AMWU news release. Yahoo 7 News. Risks 768. 17 September 2016.

Britain: Union challenges ministers over workload action
Government changes to the system of pupil assessment in England will drive up teachers' workload still further, making a ‘mockery’ of ministers’ claims to be taking action to address teacher well-being, NASUWT has said. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “This is yet another example of the gulf between the Westminster government’s rhetoric which claims to be committed to tackling teacher workload, and the reality of its policies which are having the opposite impact by piling ever greater workload pressures onto an already exhausted and overburdened teaching workforce.”
NASUWT news release. Risks 766. 3 September 2016.

USA: Firefighters run high traumatic stress and cancer risks
US firefighters are more at risk for cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population, according to union research. The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) report points to research by the Warrior Research Institute in Austin, Texas, that president Harold Schaitberger said in a statement. “New advanced protocols are needed to help prevent PTSD and cancer from taking hold, and more elected officials need to step up and support laws that help firefighters afflicted with these hidden hazards.”
IAFF news release and cancer awareness and prevention resource. Omaha World-Herald. Risks 765. 27 August 2016.

Britain: Stressed-out journalists issue strike warning
Journalists on Newsquest titles in London are balloting for industrial action over inadequate staffing levels, excessive workloads, health and safety concerns, reduced quality of newspapers and poor pay. A union stress survey earlier this year covering staff in south London showed many were suffering from high workloads, job insecurity and struggling with a new production system and poor communication from the company’s senior management.
NUJ news release. Morning Star. Risks 765. 27 August 2016.

Britain: Be mindful it’s not the answer to bad jobs
Practicing mindfulness meditation on a regular basis will not make you any more likely to eat healthily, exercise or quit smoking, new research has indicated. Researchers from the universities of Edinburgh and Gothenburg found that despite being seen as one of the ultimate ways to relax and being promoted as a work-stress busting solution, regular mindfulness courses do not help humans unwind any more than sitting in front of the TV.
Yonas Alem and others. Mind, behaviour and health: A randomised experiment, Social Science Research Network, IZA Discussion Paper No. 10019, July 2016. HSE stress management standards. Mindfulness at work. Daily Mail. Risks 764. 20 August 2016

Britain: Study finds sedentary work is deadly
Desk-bound workers who do low amounts of exercise face a greatly elevated risk of an early death, a new study has found. A team of international experts found sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase the risk of premature death by up to 60 per cent.
Ulf Ekelund and others. Does physical activity attenuate, or even eliminate, the detrimental association of sitting time with mortality? A harmonised meta-analysis of data from more than 1 million men and women, The Lancet, published online 27 July, 2016. The Lancet physical activity series.
The Guardian and accompanying article. Sydney Morning Herald.
Workplace well-being programmes: A guide for safety reps, TUC, December 2015.
Hard to swallow: TUC warns that firms and government have an unhealthy preoccupation with your lifestyle, Hazards, number 133, December 2015. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

Britain: Safety body calls for anti-slavery 'race to the top'
The UK government has the opportunity to lead a ‘race to the top’ in tackling modern slavery, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has said. The safety body was commenting as the prime minister Theresa May marked the first anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 with the announcement of a new UK cabinet taskforce to tackle the “sickening and inhuman crimes.”
IOSH news release. PM Theresa May news release and Sunday Telegraph article. Risks 762. 6 August 2016

Britain: MoD scraps ‘despised’ performance management system
The Ministry of Defence has agreed to end the use of a performance management system that civil service union PCS says is ‘despised’ by staff. New permanent secretary Stephen Lovegrove has made an agreement with the Cabinet Office to end performance management reviews in the department, including forced rankings where employees are individually ranked best to worst.
PCS news release. Tell your MP to back the PCS campaign for a fair management system. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Union acts on firefighter mental health concerns
Firefighters’ union FBU is taking action to protect the mental health of its members after a report warned that shockingly high numbers had contemplated suicide. Mental health charity Mind reported this year that 30 per cent of firefighters have contemplated taking their own lives.
FBU news release and guide, Mental health in the workplace – an initial guide for reps. Risks 760. 23 July 2016

Britain: Scotland’s college staff near stress breaking point
A UNISON Scotland survey has revealed more than four out of five college support workers have experienced stress at work, with one in five becoming so sick they were unable to work. Support staff from 17 colleges participated in the survey which revealed ‘shocking’ levels of stress and bullying in Scotland’s colleges, the union said.
UNISON Scotland news release and report, Learning the hard way. Risks 759. 16 July 2016.

Britain: Cuts leave council staff at breaking point
Local government workers are experiencing unprecedented pressure and stress in the workplace – and government cuts are to blame, the union UNISON has found. Its report – ‘Under pressure, underfunded and undervalued’ - is based on a survey of more than 2,000 local authority staff, including teaching assistants, social workers, librarians and carers who look after people in their own homes.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Stressed union activists need support
Public service union UNISON is to explore ways of supporting activists and reps in stressful situations, after concerns were raised by delegates to its national conference. The conference agreed that the UNISON executive should investigate the possibility of a telephone support service for activists, and should provide training and produce a handbook for activists on how to deal with stressful situations and how they can support branch colleagues.
UNISON news release. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Teaching union to start workload strikes
Teaching union NUT says its members in England are to strike over an erosion of working conditions and spiralling workload. Teachers will walk out first on 5 July, after 91 per cent of those who voted backed the action.
NUT news release and related release. BBC News Online. Risks 757. 2 July 2016

Britain: Scots secondary teachers vote to take industrial action
Secondary teachers in Scotland are set to take industrial action over their ‘excessive’ workload. Members of the teaching union EIS voted overwhelmingly for a work to rule.
EIS news release. BBC News Online. Risks 756. 25 June 2016

Britain: Vets face ‘bleak future’ as stress hits numbers
Stress and long working hours are causing a retention problem in the veterinary profession, their union has warned. The British Veterinary Union (BVU), a part of the union Unite, says nearly 10 per cent of young vets are planning to leave the job as soon as possible.
Unite news release. BVU website. Morning Star. Risks 755. 18 June 2016

Britain: Stressed-out midwives voice safety concerns
Midwife burn-out is leading to safety fears, according to a survey by the midwives’ union RCM. The union said over half (52 per cent) of midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) who responded to its survey ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ with the statement: ‘I am worried about making a mistake at work because I am exhausted.’   
RCM news release. Risks 754. 11 June 2016.

Britain: Soaring site stress and mental illness
Mental health problems linked to the job is blighting the construction sector, a UCATT survey has found. The union found 64 per cent of members responding to the survey said they are suffering from stress and a ‘huge’ 76 per cent said they had at some point suffered stress at work.
UCATT news release. Risks 751. 21 May 2016

Britain: Work stress conference, 19-20 November, Birmingham
The UK Work Stress Network’s 2016 conference will place from Saturday 19 November to Sunday 20 November in Rednal, Birmingham. This year’s theme is ‘Mental health in the workplace – tackling work stress in a changing working environment.’
UK Work Stress Network: Conference details and booking form. Book and pay in full before September and you’ll qualify for a 10 per cent early bird discount. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Britain: Low wages are an occupational health hazard
Low wages should be recognised as a genuine occupational health threat, US researchers have concluded. “Workers earning low wages may be at greater risk for disease and injury than workers earning high wages,” note J Paul Leigh and Roberto De Vogli of the University of California Davis School of Medicine in an editorial in the May edition of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, adding that low wages should be considered among the psychosocial factors - such as long work hours and high job strain - identified as occupational risks to health.
J Paul Leigh and Roberto De Vogli.  Editorial: Low wages as occupational health hazards, Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, volume 58, issue 5, pages 444–447, May 2016. Science Daily.  Low blow: Low paid work comes with high work risks, Hazards, October-December 2014. Risks 750. 14 May 2016

Japan: Bus driver’s suicide was work-related
The Nagoya High Court in Japan has overturned a lower court decision and recognised the suicide of a Nagoya City bus driver as work-related, caused by heavy workloads and “power harassment”. The court ruled Yamada Akira, who was 37 at the time of his death, suffered from a nervous breakdown due to verbal abuse from a manager and lengthy police interviews around the same time regarding a minor accident over which the manager made him turn himself into the police.
Japan Press. More on work-related suicide. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Performance management is ‘divisive and unfair
The performance management system used across the civil service is ‘divisive, unfair and demotivating’, an extensive survey by the union PCS has revealed. The system, which has been linked to high levels of workplace stress, burnout and ill-health, ranks workers and puts a fixed percentage of lower ranked staff on a path to performance-related dismissal.
PCS news release and performance management guidance. CWU news releaseRisks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Soaring stress levels sickening DWP staff
More sick days are lost to depression and anxiety than any other illness at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), new figures show, with civil service union PCS saying it highlights the pressure on staff forced to implement “cruel policies”. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka linked the evidence of high pressure on DWP staff to government policies. The Independent. Risks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Warning on exodus of stressed school support staff
More than half (52 per cent) of school support staff across the UK have experienced stress, anxiety or depression as they struggle to cope with their workloads, according to a new survey by UNISON. Over two-fifths (41.5 per cent) of those who took part in the survey said they had difficulty in completing their work, and more than one in eight (13.4 per cent) said they found it impossible to manage all that was being asked of them.
UNISON news release and survey findingsRisks 749. 7 May 2016

Britain: Better pay can fix mental health problems
A new study has found that low-paid workers who received the national minimum wage in April 1999 reported a decline in symptoms of depression for at least 22 months afterwards. The researchers discovered that receiving the national minimum wage was equivalent to the effect of taking antidepressants.
University of Oxford news release. Aaron Reeves, Martin McKee, Johan Mackenbach, Margaret Whitehead and David Stuckler. Introduction of a national minimum wage reduced depressive symptoms in low-wage workers: a quasi-natural experiment in the UK, Health Economics, published online ahead of print, April 2016. Risks 747. 23 April 2016

Britain: Teachers warn of action over excessive workload
Teachers are threatening strike action in their campaign against excessive workload.
The National Union of Teachers' annual conference called for “sustained strike action” to back schools challenging a long hours culture.
NUT news release. BBC News OnlineRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Britain: Workload is behind the teaching crisis
Workload is the key driver of the teacher shortage crisis, putting people off becoming teachers and compelling enthusiastic teachers to leave, according to a new survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). The union’s survey last month of 876 education staff asked what they thought might stop people from wanting to become teachers; 93 per cent cited workload and 91 per cent said poor work/life balance.
ATL news release. Morning StarRisks 745. 9 April 2016

Canada: Union praises first responder trauma law
A union has welcomed a new law in Ontario, Canada, recognising post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in emergency first responders. The legislation includes a presumption that PTSD diagnosed in first responders is work-related, leading to faster access to resources and treatment.
OPSEU news release. Risks 740. 27 February 2016

Britain: Mental health plan at risk from service ‘salami slicing’ A record of ‘short-termism’ and ‘salami slicing’ by government ministers could undermine a new blueprint to get more people suffering mental health problems back to work, Unite has said. The union was speaking out after the prime minister launched ‘The Five Year Forward View for Mental Health’, a report by the independent taskforce on mental health.
Prime Minister’s Office news release. Unite news release. BBC News Online. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Bullying widespread in the police service
Around half of all police staff surveyed by the union UNISON said they had been bullied, with female staff significantly more likely to have been targeted. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of female police staff told the union that bullying is a problem at work, and almost threequarters (72 per cent) reported they were not confident that their force will deal fairly with any complaints of bullying.
UNISON news release. Risks 739. 20 February 2016.

Britain: Public sector workers sleep-deprived, says study
Gruelling working hours across the public sector are leaving workers sleep deprived, with many only managing six hours sleep per night, a study has found. Research led by the University of Leeds and commissioned and funded by bed firm Silentnight found nearly a third of Britons suffered from sleepless nights as a result of long work hours and job-related pressure and stress.
Leeds University news release. TUC news release. Risks 738. 13 February 2016.

Global: New guide to tackle bullying at sea
New guidance to combat bullying and harassment at sea has been developed by the industry body the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the global union the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). As well as providing advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, the guidance addresses the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers to use these procedures appropriately and for being aware of any harassment or bullying that might occur within the maritime workplace.
ICS/ITF Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying. Nautilus publication alert. Risks 736. 20 January 2016.

Canada: Firms alone can’t define work violence
A top Canadian court has ruled that employers cannot arbitrarily decide what constitutes workplace violence or rely on internal investigations when incidents occur. In a groundbreaking decision, the Federal Court of Appeal has supported a legal challenge brought on behalf of a member of the public service union PSAC, who had complained about the harassment and humiliation he suffered at the hands of his supervisor.
PSAC news release. Canadian Labour Reporter. Risks 732. 12 December 2015

Britain: ‘Box ticking exercise’ makes dismissal unfair
A Prospect member fired by BT under a performance management system following a serious operation has won an unfair dismissal claim. Trevor Edwards, who was a programme manager with almost 40 years’ service with BT, was dismissed in 2014, with an employment tribunal ruling concluded BT had “seemingly carried out a box ticking exercise with no regard to the practical realities of what they were doing.”
Prospect news release. Risks 732. 12 December 2015

Britain: Big workloads are ‘grinding down’ teachers
Four out of every five school staff say their workload is still unmanageable, one year on from the government's Workload Challenge, according to a survey from the teaching union ATL. The union research found 81 per cent of teachers and 85 per cent of ‘senior leaders’ in state schools in England reported their workload was unmanageable.
ATL news release. Risks 731. 5 December 2015

Japan: Firms must check mental health of staff
Businesses in Japan will be obliged from December to offer their employees an annual test to check their level of mental stress amid an increase in workers suffering from mental disorders, the health ministry has said. Under the Industrial Health and Safety Law’s revision last year, the test, in the form of a questionnaire, will target more than 20 million employees at around 16,000 businesses nationwide, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.
Japan Today. Risks 730. 28 November 2015

Britain: Nearly a third of people are bullied at work 
Nearly a third of people have been bullied at work, according to new research from the TUC. one in five (22 per cent) had to take time off work as a result of being bullied. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Anyone worried about bullying at work should join a union, to get their voice heard and their interests represented.”  
TUC news release and guides, Bullying at work - Guidance for safety representatives and Bullied at work? Don't suffer in silenceAcas news release and discussion paper, Seeking better solutions: tackling bullying and ill-treatment in Britain's workplaces, November 2015. Risks 729. 21 November 2015

Britain: Working wounded face multiple pressures 
High job demands, stress and job insecurity are among the main reasons why people go to work when they are ill, according to a new study by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Concordia University in Canada. The study found one of the most significant causes of presenteeism is the severity of organisational policies used to monitor or reduce staff absence, such as strict trigger points for disciplinary action, job insecurity, limited paid sick leave, or few absence days allowed without a medical certificate. und to be key reasons why people might not take a day off.  
UEA news release. Mariella Miraglia and Gary Johns. 'Going to work ill: a meta-analysis of the correlates of presenteeism and a dual-path model'Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published online first, 9 November 2015. Risks 728. 14 November 2015   

Britain: Unite calls for action on stress
Unite has called for its members to take action on stress. Making the action call on 4 November, National Stress Awareness Day, Unite national safety adviser Susan Murray said the union “is aware that many of our members are suffering as a result of bullying, job uncertainty, changes at work and the government cuts - all of which can have an adverse effect on mental health.”
Unite news release. Risks 727. 7 November 2015

Britain: Lab staff walk out over work pressures
Laboratory assistants at a Yorkshire hospital took strike action last week over “enormous” work pressures and rotas that are causing sickness rates to skyrocket. The action involved 18 members of the public service union UNISON who work at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, which is run by Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust. UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside. Morning Star. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.

Britain: A worker is made ill by work stress every two minutes
Every two minutes, a worker somewhere in the UK is made ill through stress at work, the TUC has revealed. New TUC advice on managing stress at work highlights three key points: Stress is not a weakness or your fault; Don’t suffer in silence, but instead talk to someone like your union rep, a friend, your GP or a support service; and stress-related illnesses caused by work are preventable.
TUC news release and guide to coping with workplace stress. HSE stress statistics. ETUC news release. EU-OSHA healthy work/stress webpages. Risks 725. 24 October 2015.

Britain: Mental health problems widespread in shopworkers
Nearly one in four shopworkers has taken time off work because of worry, anxiety or depression, a survey by Usdaw has found. The retail union also discovered over half of those affected said that they didn’t feel able to be honest about the reason for their absence.
Usdaw news release. Risks 724. 17 October 2015.

Britain: Better to act together than be resilient alone
‘Workplace resilience’, an increasingly popular intervention in workplaces intended to help us withstand the pressures of work, was criticised two years ago by the TUC for treating the distressed worker and not the dysfunctional workplace as the problem. Now the approach is coming in for flak in Australia, with Andrew Thackrah and Susie Byers, nothing “individually-focused programmes can't overcome the structural realties and power imbalances that characterise the employment relationship.”
The Age. SafetyAtWork blog.
Hugh Robertson, TUC: Tough luck, Hazards, number 123, July-September 2013. Risks 723. 10 October 2015

Britain: Over half of teachers could quit within two years
More than half of teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years, a union poll has revealed. The joint NUT and YouGov survey found 53 per cent of teachers are looking to quit, mainly due to low morale and high workloads made worse by cuts in pay and the number of teachers and support staff.
NUT news release. DfE news release. Morning Star. Risks 723. 10 October 2015

Britain: Stress could force senior doctors out of the NHS
The NHS is facing an exodus of senior hospital doctors as new figures show that more than 80 per cent may retire early because work-related stress is causing them sleepless nights, marital breakups and illness such as ulcers, anxiety and even strokes. A union survey of NHS consultants has found that huge numbers are becoming burned out and having their lives damaged as a result of the escalating pressures at the service’s frontline, including rising demand, long hours and the need to meet targets.
HCSA news release. The Guardian. Risks 720. 19 September 2015

Britain: Scottish lecturers get new stress busting tool
A Scottish union has launched a new toolkit to help university lecturers combat work-related stress. The University Lecturers’ Association (ULA), part of the union EIS, is distributing the kit to members and university human resources departments.
EIS news release. Risks 720. 19 September 2015

Europe: European Health and Safety Week, 19-25 October
European Health and Safety Week will take place in the third week of October, running from Monday 19 October to Sunday 25 October. The theme is workplace stress for the second year running, with Wednesday 21 October the TUC National Inspection Day when all safety representatives are encouraged to inspect their workplace.
TUC European Health and Safety Week webpage and resources Risks 719. 12 September 2015

Global: New warning on deadly work stress
Job insecurity, long working hours and other common workplace stressors can all damage a person's health, raise the odds of them having an illness diagnosed by a doctor and even leading to an early death. A Harvard Business School and Stanford University study found that high job demands increased the odds of having an illness diagnosed by a doctor by 35 per cent, long work hours increased the chances of early death by almost 20 per cent and worry that you might soon lose your job increased the odds of having poor health by about 50 per cent.
Joel Goh, Jeffrey Pfeffer and Stefanos A Zenios, Workplace stressors and health outcomes: Health policy for the workplace, Behavioural Science and Policy, volume 1, number 1, September 2015. Daily Mail. CNN News. Boston.com. Risks 719. 12 September 2015

Japan: New law to require stress checks for workers
Japan’s government plans to introduce stress checks for its workers, as the number of staff on leave due to mental illness remains high. A report in the Japan Times says under the system, the National Personnel Authority plans to conduct a stress survey every year, based on provisions in the Industrial Safety and Health Act, which was revised last year.
Japan Times. Risks 714. 8 August 2015.

Britain: UNISON stresses joint working for Euro week
UNISON is encouraging employers and its union branches to work together to tackle work-related stress. The UNISON push follows the announcement that the theme for October’s European Health and Safety Week will again be stress and other psychosocial risks. The union says employers and branches should consider conducting a stress audit using the HSE stress management tool.
UNISON news release and Stress at work - a guide for UNISON safety reps.
Tackling workplace stress using the HSE stress management standards - TUC guidance for union health and safety reps. Risks 710. 11 July 2015

Europe: Stress and strains top work risks list
Stress and strains are the most widespread risks encountered in Europe’s workplaces, according to an EU-wide survey. The research found the key factors motivating firms to abide by their occupational health and safety management duties where complying with laws, meeting expectations of workers and their representatives and avoiding fines.
EU-OSHA news release and summary of the ESENER 2 findings. ETUI news release. Risks 709. 4 July 2015

Britain: Midwife suffered two work stress breakdowns
A former senior midwife suffered two breakdowns caused by stress at work. Royal College of Midwives (RCM) member Angela Jommo, 58, who worked for South London Healthcare NHS Trust, lost her job and felt forced into taking early retirement at the age of 55.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015

Britain: Stressed social workers face courts trauma
Heavy workloads are leaving more than nine in ten (90 per cent) social workers stressed and without enough time to prepare for court cases involving vulnerable children and families, according to a new report from UNISON. Half the social workers questioned (49 per cent) admitted they were not confident when appearing before a judge, with most concerned about the consequences of having their identity revealed in court.
UNISON news release. Risks 708. 27 June 2015

Britain: BBC Scotland faces bullying action
Workers at BBC Scotland are considering industrial action in a dispute over the handling of grievance and bullying allegations against one of its most senior executives. BBC Scotland’s then head of news and current affairs, John Boothman, was taped in February by camerawoman Zoe MacDonald as he made a series of highly personal and critical remarks about her in a private conversation with a personnel manager.
The Guardian. Risks 707. 20 June 2015

Britain: Depressed workers need more help
People with depression need more support to stay in and to return to work, a new report has concluded.  The paper from Lancaster University’s Work Foundation, ‘Symptoms of depression and their effects on employment’, considers the ways in which some of the symptoms associated with depression can affect an individual’s ability to remain in or to find work.
The Work Foundation news release and report, Symptoms of depression and their effects on employment. TUC report, Good practice in workplace mental health. Risks 704. 30 May 2015

Britain: College staff worn out by work
Working in further education has become increasingly stressful over the past six years with staff worn down by constant change, says a report for the union UCU has concluded. ‘Taking its toll: rising stress levels in further education’ used the Health and Safety Executive’s stress management indicators and found the proportion of staff who agreed or strongly agreed with the statement 'I find my job stressful' rose to 87 per cent in 2014, up from 78 per cent in 2012 and 74 per cent in 2008.
UCU news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015

Britain: Stress blame is stressing us out
A stigma-busting, stress-tackling campaign by the union Prospect is aiming to encourage union reps to seek out preventive measures to tackle the top workplace health problem. Prospect safety specialist Sarah Page is highlighting the union’s initiative after research published by AXA PPP Healthcare in April found two-thirds of managers don’t believe stress, anxiety or depression warrant sick leave.
Prospect health and safety blog, ‘Stress, Stigma, Solutions’ campaign and good work webpages. AXA PPP Healthcare news release. Risks 704. 30 May 2015

Britain: Most paramedics are stressed out
Long hours, staff shortages and the mental demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on ambulance workers, with nine in ten (91 per cent) saying they are suffering with stress, according to new UNISON research. The survey of 2,977 ambulance workers found that threequarters (74 per cent) are suffering with sleep problems, 72 per cent said they felt irritable as a result and experienced mood swings, and more than half (56 per cent) suffer with anxiety.
UNISON news release. Morning Star. Risks 698. 18 April 2015

Britain: High tech stress and abuse faces teachers
Computers are being used to load out-of-hours work on teachers and to abuse them, surveys by the union NASUWT have found. Nearly 60 per cent of teachers responding to an NASUWT annual survey reported having had adverse comments posted about them on social media sites by pupils and parents, compared to 21 per cent in 2014.
NASUWT news releases on social media abuse and home invasionRisks 69711 April 2015

Britain: Resolving mental health issues at work
Workers have been experiencing a significant increase in stress, which in some cases has led to mental health problems, as a result of the impact of austerity on their work and home lives, a new TUC report has concluded. ‘Good practice in workplace mental health’ says although there is greater public awareness of mental health, the number of workers affected by mental health issues is ‘enormous’.
TUC news release and report, Good practice in workplace mental health. USI liveRisks 69711 April 2015

Britain: Unions make a difference on mental health at work
The prevalence of mental health problems among Britain’s workers is as bad as ever, and is being exacerbated by reductions in the funding of mental health services, the TUC has warned. But he said there is some good news, and that comes in the form of trade union initiatives to prevent work-related mental health problems or to support affected workers in their jobs.
TUC Touchstone blog and report, Good practice in workplace mental health, TUC, March 2015. Risks 696. 28 March 2015

Britain: Austerity measures create ‘unsustainable stress’
Cuts to local authority budgets are having a profound effect on the services people receive and are leaving the staff delivering them facing “unsustainable stress”, a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found. The report also noted “frontline staff within local authorities are working very hard to cushion service-users from the worst impacts of the cuts, principally by taking on expanded workloads,” adding: “The level of stress this entails does not appear sustainable in the longer term and in many areas staff report feeling overwhelmed by the scale and nature of the problems they are dealing with.”
JRF publication alert. The cost of the cuts: the impact on local government and poorer communities, JRF, March 2015, summary and full report. STUC news release. Risks 695. 21 March 2015

Britain: Nine in ten emergency staff are suffering stress
Britain’s frontline medics, police and firefighters are struggling with mental health problems but are too scared to ask for help, according to a Mind survey. The mental health charity found that almost nine out of ten (87 per cent) emergency services personnel polled admitted to stress, low mood and poor mental health.
Mind news release and Blue Light programme. FBU news release. The Mirror. Nursing Times. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.

Britain: Scottish mental health staff feel the pressure
Scotland’s over-stretched mental health staff are suffering from stress as they feel unable to deliver the service their patients deserve, a UNISON survey has found. The union said 84 per cent of respondents reported their workload had increased, and 76 per cent said cuts had affected the quality of patient care.
UNISON Scotland news release and full report, See us - mental health staff survey. Risks 694. 14 March 2015.

Britain: Union survey of stressed out Telegraph staff
Editorial staff at the Telegraph are being asked by their union about workload, work pressures and the effect cost-cutting changes at the paper have had on the quality of news. The NUJ said it was acting on concerns arising after a “brutal” spate of redundancies.
NUJ news release. Risks 692. 28 February 2015

Britain: TUC puts responsibility back on employers
A poll conducted for the British Heart Foundation has shown that millions of workers feel their job is having a negative impact on their health. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said “the answer is not just for employers to encourage their staff to change their lifestyle, it is for employers to improve working conditions, provide secure jobs and treat their workers like human beings rather than machines.”
CIPD news report. Risks 691. 21 February 2015

Britain: BBC and unions agree bullying policy
Extensive discussions between the BBC and unions within the Federation of Entertainment Unions over a new policy to address complaints from staff and freelancers over bullying and harassment have led to an agreement.
GMB news release. Risks 690. 14 February 2015

Britain: Fail grade for ‘insufficient’ plans on teacher workload
Government plans to reduce “unnecessary and unproductive” teacher workload at schools in England will not have the required impact, teaching unions have said. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and education secretary Nicky Morgan said a series of “decisive measures” to be introduced in England would include an end to major government reforms being introduced during the academic year, with schools also given notice of major changes.
DfE news release. Government response to the Workload Challenge, DfE, February 2015. NUT news release. NASUWT news release. ATL news release.
BBC News Online. Risks 690. 14 February 2015

Britain: Mental health the top work-related health problem
New research shows that throughout the British Isles, mental health disorders are the most common work-related ill health problem. A team from Manchester University found mental health problems linked to work account for over half of all cases reported by occupational physicians.
SOM news release. A Money and others. Work-related ill-health: Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Great Britain 2005-2012, Occupational Medicine, volume 65, pages 15-21, 13 January 2015.
Promoting good practice in workplace mental health: A seminar for union officers, workplace representatives and activists, Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS. 5 February 2015, 9.00-13.00. Register for the TUC mental health good practice seminar. Risks 686. 17 January 2015

Britain: Watchdog and firms doing ‘sod all’ of use on stress
Workplace stress causes heart and other chronic diseases, higher rates of sickness absence and suicides. So why, asks TUC’s Hugh Robertson, are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and employers doing ‘sod all’ of any use to tackle the bad management practices at the root of the problem?
Distressing failure: Who says work has to be like this?, Hazards magazine special report, December 2014. TUC Safety Reps Guide to the HSE Stress Management Standards. Risks 685. 10 January 2015

Japan: Unions aim to head off overwork deaths
Workers in Japan have been offered union-run counselling in a bid to reduce the deadly impact of excessive workloads. The trade union confederation Rengo said the two days of telephone counselling was intended to reduce the chances of a worker falling victim to “karoshi,” or death from overwork.
Japan TimesMore on deaths from overworkILO karoshi case studyRisks 68413 December 2014

Britain: School support staff are really struggling
A survey of more than 15,000 school support staff  from the across the UK has found a demoralised workforce that harbours serious concerns for their ability to adequately support students, unless crucial issues such as workload, job security, overtime and pay are addressed. The survey by UNISON, which represents more than 250,000 school support staff, revealed 80 per cent are concerned about workload, with 81 per cent admitting the only way they can keep on top of their work is by doing unpaid overtime and working out of hours.
UNISON news releaseRisks 6836 December 2014

Britain: Stressed prison staff are ‘totally demoralised’
Prison employers are failing to meet any of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress management benchmarks, an independent study for the prisons officers’ union POA has found. Researchers from the University of Bedfordshire examined the work-related stress and wellbeing of prison officers and of nurses in psychiatric secure hospitals.
POA news releaseRisks 68229 November 2014

Britain: Performance management is a bad business
Performance management, a worker assessment system that pits workers against each other and is linked to a massive intensification of work, is also a very bad idea for business, the union Prospect has said. Studies have shown the approach, which has been abandoned by some blue chip companies, to cause high levels of workplace stress, burnout and ill-health.
Prospect safety blog, Good Work campaign, stress resources and advice on performance managementThe GuardianRisks 68122 November 2014

Britain: Survey of journalists finds dangerous stress
Journalists working for the newspaper giant Johnston Press (JP) are suffering dangerously high levels of stress, journalists’ union NUJ has found. A health and safety survey across JP’s titles revealed 82 per cent were subject to unrealistic time pressure, with 44 per cent saying this was cases often or always.
NUJ news releaseRisks 68122 November 2014

Britain: Bad changes are bad for your health
A new guide on stress for NHS workers, produced by the NHS Staff Council, has linked the “unprecedented levels of change” the NHS has undergone in recent years to cases of stress and bullying. Health service union UNISON said the report also drew attention to the risks of redundancy, down-banding and privatisation of NHS services as stress factors.
UNISON news release, and guide: Stress at Work, a guide for UNISON safety reps. NHS staff council: Guidance on prevention and management of stress at workRisks 6798 November 2014

France: Shift work is bad for your brain
Working an irregular shift pattern may be causing long-term damage to people’s memory and mental abilities, new research has shown. The study suggested a decade of shifts aged the brain by more than six years.
Jean-Claude Marquié and others. Chronic effects of shift work on cognition: findings from the VISAT longitudinal study, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, published First Online 3 November 2014. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101993 [abstract] • BBC News OnlineThe IndependentRisks 6798 November 2014

Britain: Going to work is more stressful than ever
Britons find their jobs more stressful, precarious and demanding than ever before, according to an extensive poll of experiences of the workplace conducted for the TUC. Two-thirds of employed people say that the amount of work they are expected to do has grown over the past few years, and more than a third are expected to do unpaid overtime, YouGov found.
Independent on SundayRisks 6798 November 2014

Britain: Union reps say stress is the UK’s top concern
Stress tops the workplace concerns of union health and safety reps, the TUC’s 11th biennial TUC survey has found. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s shocking that so many employers are breaking the law and putting their staff at risk of illness and accidents by their sheer negligence.”
TUC news release and full report, Focus on health and safety: Trade union trends survey, October 2014 • Risks 6781 November 2014

Britain: Cuts are making civil servants sick
Cuts to jobs and increasing workloads are leading to more stress and ill-health in the civil service, according to new surveys for PCS. Two surveys carried out for the union by employment analysts and academics have revealed high levels of stress, longer working hours, and fewer opportunities to achieve a work-life balance.
PCS news releaseMorning StarRisks 6781 November 2014

Britain: Study highlights spiralling lecturer stress
Scotland’s university lecturers are facing heavy workload pressures and high levels of work-related stress caused by university management practices. The findings, based partly on a survey carried out by the  union EIS, indicate that teaching staff in the university sector have lower levels of wellbeing and satisfaction compared to overall scores of those working across all sectors of education.
EIS news releaseRisks 67725 October 2014

Britain: Stressed out, overworked and underpaid
UNISON members are being expected to do more work with fewer staff for less pay, the union's national health and safety committee has warned. Meeting as this year's European Health and Safety Week kicked off on 20 October, the public sector union’s safety committee indicated this oppressive combination was the motivation behind its ‘Cut stress, not jobs’ campaign.
UNISON news release and guide, Stress at work, a guide for UNISON safety reps •  EU-OSHA news releaseRisks 67725 October 2014

Britain: Stress is the UK’s top concern, say reps
Stress is the top concern in UK workplaces, findings of a TUC survey of union safety reps has found. The trailed results from the 11th biennial survey, to be published in full in November, reveal two-thirds of safety reps (67 per cent) say stress, and the effect it is having on their colleagues, is one of the main concerns they have to deal with at work.
TUC news releaseRisks 676 • 18 October 2014

Europe: Stress remains a major problem at work
A quarter of workers in Europe report feeling stressed at work all or most of the time, and a similar proportion say that work affects their health negatively, a new report has revealed. ‘Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention’ found fewer people report working long hours but say at the same time job insecurity has increased across Europe, and in some countries work intensity has risen in companies struggling in the economic crisis.
EU-OSHA news release and Psychosocial risks in Europe: Prevalence and strategies for prevention, full report and executive summaryEurofound news releaseRisks 67618 October 2014

Britain: Why NHS staff need to take a break
Health service union UNISON is urging NHS staff in England to take their breaks and ambulance staff to not work unpaid overtime. Commenting as NHS and other staff embarked on industrial action in defence of decent services and work conditions, UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said “NHS staff go above and beyond what's expected of them every day and every week.”
UNISON news releaseTUC Stronger Unions blogRisks 67618 October 2014

Britain: Stressed social workers on the brink of quitting
The stress of “sharing people's misery”, increasing workloads and a lack of resources mean many social workers want to quit the profession, a survey has found. Nearly one in 10 UK social workers had considering leaving the job, with over a fifth of these blaming stress or unmanageable caseloads.
Community CareBBC News OnlineRisks 67511 October 2014

Britain: Teachers welcome minister’s workload pledge
Teaching union NUT has welcomed a commitment from the government to reduce teacher workloads. Education secretary Nicky Morgan, addressing the Conservative Party conference on 30 September, described teachers as the “heroes” of the education system, and promised she would make a priority of reducing their workload.
NUT news release and survey findingsEducation Secretary’s Conservative conference speechBBC News OnlineRisks 6744 October 2014

Britain: TUC stress guide for European safety week
The TUC has produced a revised guide to tackling stress using the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) management standards. The publication is intended as a resource of use by safety reps, and comes ahead of the stress-themed European Health and Safety Week, which this year runs from 20 October.
TUC Safety Reps Guide to the HSE Stress Management Standards [pdf] • TUC European Health and Safety Week webpages and National Inspection Day webpageRisks 67327 September 2014

Britain: Stress tops the workplace concerns of UNISON reps
UNISON health and safety reps have identified stress as a top hazard in the workplace. Responding ahead of next month's European Health and Safety Week, 9 out of 10 reps placed stress and related issues including bullying and harassment, violence and threats, overwork and long hours, as their most serious workplace concern. UNISON says its survey findings reinforce the union’s call for branches to support the stress-themed European Health and Safety Week, which this year runs from Monday 20 October to Sunday 26 October.
UNISON news release and European Health and Safety Week webpages • TUC European Health and Safety Week webpages and National Inspection Day webpageRisks 67220 September 2014

Britain: Mental health is a big issue at work
The cost of living crisis means workers are increasingly at risk of mental health problems, the union Usdaw has said. Paddy Lillis, the union’s deputy general secretary, told the TUC’s annual conference in Liverpool that trade union and workplace reps have a big role to play in supporting members coping with mental health issues.
Usdaw news releaseThe GuardianBBC News OnlineAnnual Report of the Chief Medical Officer • Risks 67113 September 2014

German: Ban on out-of-office contact investigated
German employment minister Andrea Nahles is considering new “anti-stress” legislation that would ban companies from contacting employees out of hours. Concerns over rising levels of workplace stress prompted the minister to commission a report investigating the viability of legislation that would restrict the use of emails to contact staff outside of work.
Daily MailThe GuardianRisks 6707 September 2014

Europe: Burnout linked to performance management
The closely policed pressure to perform at work is creating a generation of burnout victims, experts have warned. Online publication Equal Times notes: “The way the working environment is organised appears to be a major factor in the development of burnout,” adding: “It is an environment that is increasingly dehumanised and pressurised, an environment that is increasingly taking over people’s personal lives.”
Equal TimesEuropean Institute for Intervention and Research on BurnoutRisks 66426 July 2014

Britain: Suicide linked to performance monitoring
The widow of a Stafford planning officer found hanged has told an inquest her husband was “very distressed” by performance monitoring at work. Nicky Atkins challenged claims that 45-year-old Phil Atkins was only subject to “informal” monitoring following concerns about the standard of his work at Stafford Borough Council’s planning department.
Staffordshire NewsletterMore on work-related suicideRisks 66319 July 2014.

Britain: UNISON sets a date for work stress action
UNISON is calling on its members to campaign against government spending cuts it says are putting both stressed-out workers and communities at risk. The public sector union say October's stress-themed European Health and Safety Week will provide a vital opportunity to promote good health and safety practice.
UNISON news release. European Health and Safety Week 2014Risks 66212 July 2014

Britain: Performance pay is bad for your health
Performance-related pay is bad for your health, a new study has found. After analysing survey results of more than 2,500 people from across Britain. Aberdeen University researchers concluded “being in jobs with a performance pay element increases the likelihood of health deterioration.”
Keith A. Bender and Ioannis Theodossiou. The unintended consequences of the rat race: the detrimental effects of performance pay on health, Oxford Economic Papers, volume 66, Number 3, pages 824-847, 2014. Herald Scotland. More on the issue from Hazards and Karoshi.jpRisks 6615 July 2014

Britain: Stressed teachers 'at breaking point'
Scotland's teachers “are at breaking point” over increased workloads and changes to their jobs, the union EIS has warned. General secretary Larry Flanagan told the union’s annual conference there was evidence many teachers were struggling to cope.
EIS news release and Make Time for Teaching campaign • BBC News OnlineRisks 65814 June 2014

Britain: Fire service action continues over pensions
Firefighters in England and Wales are to continue a series of walk outs over attacks on their pensions after the government confirmed it intends to implement a new scheme without further negotiations. The plans include shifting the pension age from 55 to 60, a move the union FBU says is not tenable in a safety critical and physically demanding job.
FBU news releaseRisks 65814 June 2014

Europe: Union spreads its bullying at sea message
A training film produced to combat bullying and harassment in the shipping industry, which was made in response to research by seafarers’ union Nautilus, has picked up an award in an international competition festival. The 20-minute film - ‘Say no to bullying, say no to harassment’ - was produced by Videotel for a European Union project to update guidelines and an associated training package originally produced in 2004, this also a response to a union report.
Nautilus news releaseETF training video and supporting documents • Risks 6577 June 2014

Britain: Wales TUC backs mental health changes
The Wales TUC unanimously backed a call for workers with mental health issues to have better protection and for union representatives to be given more support in advising and representing workers struggling with mental health problems. A motion from the union USDAW said there needs to be better support and resources for employers to help them deal with these complex issues and called on the Welsh Government to sharpen its focus on workplaces as part of the wider mental health strategy, leading to a culture where people are supported at work and employers understand that mental wellbeing is as important as physical wellbeing.
USDAW news releaseRisks 65631 May 2014

Australia: Your boss could make you sick
Employers who overwork and micromanage their staff can make them sick, researchers have confirmed. A study of more than 7,000 Norwegian people who were middle-aged and otherwise healthy found those in high-stress offices were more likely to need two weeks or more off work a year and experience symptoms like chest pain, nausea and shortness of breath.
Daily MailSydney Morning Herald. Min-Jung Wang, Arnstein Mykletun, Ellen Ihlen Møyner, Simon Øverland, Max Henderson, Stephen Stansfeld, Matthew Hotopf, Samuel B. Harvey. Job strain, health and sickness absence: Results from the Hordaland Health Study, Plos One, published 22 April 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.009602 • Risks 65310 May 2014

Britain: Traumatised train driver may be the last to get payout
A train driver traumatised after a suicidal person walked in front of his 125mph train in March 2012 could be the last to receive a payout from an official criminal injuries compensation scheme. Under cost-cutting rule changes introduced on 26 November 2012, many workers – including some victims of violence at work and train drivers traumatised by a suicide on the track – are excluded from payments from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
The IndependentRisks 65310 May 2014

Britain: NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point
NHS staff are being pushed to breaking point - with stress showing up as the number one health and safety issue facing UNISON members working in the NHS. That was the clear message of a 'body mapping' exercise that was carried out at the union's health conference.
UNISON news releaseMore on workplace mapping techniquesRisks 6523 May 2014

Britain: Stressed ambulance service is at breaking point
The ambulance service is on the verge of breaking down as thousands of stressed out staff fear they will not be able to continue doing their jobs. Tight targets, long hours and the physical demands of the job are placing an enormous burden on overworked ambulance workers, according to a UNISON survey.
UNISON news release. Morning StarRisks 65126 April 2014

Britain: Pressure on teachers is hurting mental health
A rise in mental health problems among education workers over the past two years is linked to the pressure of performance targets and inspections, according to a survey by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). More than a third (38 per cent) of school and college staff had noticed a rise in mental health problems among colleagues in the past two years; more than half (55 per cent) felt their job had a negative impact on their mental health.
ATL news releaseMorning StarUnion NewsRisks 65126 April 2014

Britain: Bullying Bedford Council even worse than anticipated
A stress and harassment survey of GMB members employed at Bedford Council has found the problem to be even worse than originally feared. The survey conducted in December 2013 and January 2014 was undertaken by the union after it received an increase in calls from members claiming they had been bullied and unfairly treated.
GMB news releaseRisks 6441 March 2014

Britain: UK ‘worst’ on workforce mental health support
The UK is the worst performing OECD country when it comes to supporting workforce mental health, a new report has found. ‘Mental health and work: The United Kingdom’, published this week by the OECD, says better policies and practices by employers and the health system are needed to help people deal with mental health issues and get back to work.
The Work Foundation news releaseOECD new release and report, Mental Health and Work: The United KingdomRisks 64215 February 2014

Britain: Civil servants irate at unfair appraisal scheme
Britain's most senior tax officials say they have been forced to resort to industrial action over the imposition of new employee appraisals that require one in 10 revenue workers to be designated as underperformers regardless of how good they are at their jobs. Leaders of the senior civil servants union FDA have told the chief executive of HMRC, Lin Homer, they fear their members will be penalised if they do not identify 10 per cent of staff who need improvement.
FDA news releaseThe GuardianMore on performance appraisalRisks 64215 February 2014

Britain: Train drivers need not relive rail death horrors
Train drivers traumatised after someone dies under their train must not be compelled to relive the experience in person at an inquest, their union ASLEF has said. In a meeting with the Chief Coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton, ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said affected train drivers should be allowed to submit written evidence.
ASLEF news report • Risks 6401 February 2014

Britain: New concerns about performance management
Civil servants could be unfairly targeted under a new performance management system, the union Prospect has warned. It says the new process could see “line managers under pressure to deliver a forced distribution of performance markings;” adding: “The union fears that if the process is not closely monitored and challenged, it may be used to force managed exits and drive down pay.”
Prospect news releaseHazards performance management guideRisks 63925 January 2013

Britain: Unbreakable workers are not the answer
Britain’s civil servants are wilting under the pressure of escalating workloads and the government has an answer – but TUC is far from impressed. The civil service has introduced “resilience training” to help staff cope with the harrowing combination of cutbacks and mounting demands.
TUC critique of resilience in Hazards magazine and facebook safety pageThe GuardianFinancial TimesRisks 63925 January 2013

Australia: Workers are becoming more stressed
Workplace stress is on the rise in Australia, according to a new survey, with three in four workers saying it is affecting their health. More than 1,500 people took part in the survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
APS news releaseSydney Morning HeraldABC NewsRisks 63116 November 2013

Britain: Employers not doing enough to address stress
Stressed workers are suffering in silence and employers aren’t doing enough to tackle stress, according to new figures from Mind. The mental health charity’s survey of over 2,000 workers found 45 per cent of those polled said that staff are expected to cope without mentioning stress at work and almost a third (31 per cent) said that they would not be able to talk openly to their line manager if they felt stressed.
Mind news releaseUNISON ‘Cut stress, not jobs’ campaign resources • Risks 627 • 19 October 2013

Britain: A&E doctors face ‘intolerable pressures’
Urgent action must be taken to ensure emergency departments remain sustainable and safe, doctors have warned. The call comes after a report found A&E consultants were facing “intolerable pressures” in the workplace.
College of Emergency Medicine news release and Stretched to the limit reportThe Independent • Risks 626 12 October 2013

France: Public service deal on psychosocial risks
The French government, eight trade unions and representatives of public employers signed a framework agreement on 22 October on the prevention of psychosocial risks in the public service. The agreement requires each public employer to draw up a “psychosocial risk assessment and prevention plan” by 2015.
ETUI news reportRisks 6292 November 2013

Britain: Unions challenge new ‘resilience’ push
Journalists have added their backing to TUC concerns about the emergence of a resilience industry, intent on making workers ‘man up’ and shrug off the stresses and strains of work. The union alert came ahead of the 10 October launch by the government of a new workplace mental health “pledge”, which will urge employers to sign up to the resilience approach.
TUC’s Hugh Robertson on resilience, in Hazards magazine, number 123, 2013. Public Health Responsibility DealRisks 625 5 October 2013

Britain: However good you are, you are not good enough
A managerial offensive is taking place at work, with a new report claiming the government’s blitz on employment rights and welfare is being mirrored in a “new workplace tyranny” and a massive intensification of work. Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde Business School, writing in Hazards magazine, warns that performance management is the main tool used to up the pressure at work, with a proportion of workers set up to fail by design.
The New Normal, Hazards magazine, number 123, 2013 • Risks 62428 September 2013

Britain: Worker kills himself after stress claim
An inquest has heard that a top lawyer told a colleague he was going to kill himself the day before he threw himself under a Tube train. David Latham, 58, a world-renowned trademark lawyer at a large law company, was said to be 'inconsolable' with worry, and told a fellow partner that he was planning to kill himself after weeks of sleepless nights over the fate of a big case.
Fulham ChronicleRisks 62321 September 2013

Britain: TUC slams new 'resilience' culture
The TUC's head of Health and Safety has expressed concern over attempts to make workers more resilient rather than workplaces more healthy. Hugh Robertson has used the new issue of Hazards magazine to express concerns over attempts by consultants and personnel managers to improve the ability of works to withstand stress better. Tough Luck, Hazards, number 123, July-September 2013Risks 62321 September 2013

Finland: Making jobs better keeps you well
Cutting the mental and social strain caused by work can make workers healthier in the short and long term, new research has found. A Finnish study discovered the risk of an employee claiming a work disability pension due to musculoskeletal diseases can be decreased by up to 35 per cent by reducing the workplace strains.
FIOH news release and key papers and conference programmeRisks 620 • 31 August 2013

Global: Job worries raise heart disease risks
There is a “modest association” between self-reported job insecurity and coronary heart disease (CHD), a major study has found. In a response welcoming the British Medical Journal paper, Paul Nicholson, chair of the British Medical Association’s Occupational Medicine Committee, noted job insecurity is also linked to increased sickness and raised cholesterol levels and blood pressure, adding the new study was important “because we are living in ‘VUCA times’, that is to say the world is: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.”
Marianna Virtanen and others. Perceived job insecurity as a risk factor for incident coronary heart disease: systematic review and meta-analysis, British Medical Journal, volume 347, f4746, 2013, published online 8 August. Response to the article from BMA OMC chair Paul NicholsonTUC news releaseThe MirrorMore on job insecurityRisks 618 • 17 August 2013

Britain: Action as stress and bugs blight hospitals
Over-stretched staff labouring in bug infested Leeds hospitals are wilting under the stress, GMB has said. GMB’s Bill Chard said: “Continual re-organisation, higher than UK average levels of stress, mixed with ongoing financial pressures all add up to a lethal mix.”
GMB news releaseYorkshire Evening PostRisks 617 • 10 August 2013

Australia: Safety agency guilty of ‘institutional bullying’
An official workplace safety agency in Australia hounded a worker out of his job in a display of “scurrilous” and “malicious” behaviour, a court has found. The New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission found that “shabby and disgraceful” WorkCover had produced a six-volume report as part of its proceedings to dismiss Wayne Butler, but this was “fundamentally flawed” and “arrived at conclusions that were not supported by facts.”
Newcastle HeraldSydney Morning HeraldRisks 612 • 6 July 2013

Britain: Stress Network conference, 23-24 November, Birmingham
The national Stress Network’s annual conference is to take place from 23-24 November. This year’s event has the theme: ‘Are health and safety cuts the right medicine?’
Stress Network conference, Saturday, 23-24 November, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rednal, Birmingham B45 8RS. Stress Network website and conference booking formRisks 612 • 6 July 2013

Britain: Strike action plan over teacher workloads
Scotland's largest teaching union has backed a campaign of action, including strikes, over increased workloads created by the new curriculum. Delegates at the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) conference in Perth carried a motion calling for a campaign of action to be in place by December in protest against increased workloads.
EIS workload campaignDaily RecordBBC News OnlineRisks 609 • 15 June 2013

Britain: Pressure and job insecurity hits a 20-year high
British workers are feeling less secure and more pressured at work than at any time in the past 20 years, with pay cuts and diminished control over their jobs among the biggest concerns, according to a national survey of employees' wellbeing. More than 3,000 workers aged between 20 and 60 were interviewed in 2012 for the latest in a six-yearly Skills and Employment survey.
Cardiff School of Social Sciences news release and the 2012 Skills and Employment Survey (SES) and three reports: Fear at work in Britain, Work intensification in Britain and Job-related well-being in Britain, May 2013 •  Financial Times • The Guardian • More on insecure work and health •  Risks 606 •  25 May 2013

Britain: Train drivers concerned over makeshift shrines
The appearance of makeshift shrines at the site of rail tragedies is distressing for train drivers and not an appropriate way to pay tribute to the dead, the rail union ASLEF has said. ASLEF’s officer in Scotland Kevin Lindsay said: “No-one wishes to come to work and be reminded that someone has died there.”
ASLEF news release • The Scotsman •  Risks 606 • 25 May 2013

Britain: Mental health charity bullies its own staff
A mental health charity has been told to stop bullying its staff and to start practising what it preaches. Turning Point has recently threatened all its 2,600 staff with the sack unless they agree to new and worse contracts – causing huge amounts of stress and anxiety.
UNISON news releaseRisks 605 • 18 May 2013

Britain: NUJ welcomes BBC bullying action plan
Journalists’ union NUJ has welcomed recommendations to address the entrenched bullying culture at the BBC. The measures are outlined in the report of the ‘Respect at work’ review conducted by Dinah Rose QC into bullying and harassment at the broadcaster.
NUJ news release and Stop bullying guideVideo clip of Michelle Stanistreet's BBC interviewBBC Respect at work review and trade union sectionThe GuardianRisks 604 • 11 May 2013

Britain: Work stress led to school head’s suicide
A stressed headteacher found hanged at her school in Worcestershire killed herself, a coroner has ruled. Helen Mann,  whose body was discovered in a stairwell at Sytchampton First School near Stourport-on-Severn on 5 November 2012, was concerned that if an Ofsted inspection was imminent, the school would lose its 'oustanding' rating.
Kidderminster ShuttleBBC News OnlineMalvern GazetteMore on work-related suicidesRisks 603 • 4 May 2013

Britain: Retailers shopped by exhausted staff
Understaffing and long opening hours are leaving shopworkers stressed, miserable and unable to take breaks, their union has said. The Morning Star reports that delegates at the annual Usdaw conference have called for action to address low staffing levels. Morning StarRisks 603 • 4 May 2013

Britain: Needlestick injuries cause psychiatric trauma
Needlestick or ‘sharps’ injuries are resulting in persistent and substantial psychiatric illness or depression in workers in a wide range of industries, a new study has found. Research published this month in the journal Occupational Medicine found that those affected suffered psychiatric trauma that is similar in severity to trauma caused by other events such as road traffic accidents.
SOM news release. B. Green and EC Griffiths. Psychiatric consequences of needlestick injury, Occupational Medicine volume 63, pages 183–188, 2013 • 13 April 2013

Britain: Emails used as a ‘punitive’ management tool
Teachers are being swamped by a deluge of work-related emails sent in holidays, evenings and weekends, adding to their workload and causing stress and distress, the union NASUWT has warned. It says a recent survey conducted by the union revealed that nearly one in five teachers had received a stream of bullying and demanding emails from senior colleagues.”
NASUWT news releaseRisks 599 • 30 March 2013

Britain: Prison educators are highly stressed
Education staff who work in prisons have considerably higher levels of work-related stress than British workers in general, a new report commissioned by the union UCU has found. ‘A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators’ found that 72 per cent of the prison educators who responded 'strongly agreed' or 'agreed' with the statement, "I find my job stressful".
UCU news release and report, A punishing regime - a survey of occupational stress and well-being among prison educators, Gail Kinman and Siobhan Wray, University of Bedfordshire • POA news releaseRisks 599 • 30 March 2013

Britain: Schools inspectors are ‘hit men’ for ministers
School inspectors are becoming education ministers’ hit men, teaching union NASUWT has claimed. Ninety-five per cent of teachers who responded to an NASUWT survey into inspection said that they believe the schools inspections system operates in the interests of politicians rather than the public or pupils.
NASUWT news releaseHazards work-related suicide guideRisks 599 • 30 March 2013

Britain: Burnout bigger heart risk than smoking
Burnout at work is worse for your heart than smoking cigarettes, research has found.  The study, published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, found that people suffering work-related burnout are even more likely to develop heart disease than smokers.
TUC Touchstone BlogMedical News TodayPsychosomatic MedicineRisks 598
• 23 March 2013

Britain: Work is the top cause of stress
Work is the most stressful factor in people’s lives, research commissioned by Mind has found. The mental health charity found one in three people (34 per cent) said their work life was either very or quite stressful, topping both debt or financial problems (30 per cent) and health (17 per cent).
Mind news release and stress webinars • New TUC guide on mental health conditions at work • Risks 598 • 23 March 2013

Britain: Academics stressed by out of control workloads
A survey of more than 14,000 higher education staff in the UK has found academics and academic-related staff are increasingly stressed by a loss of control over the way they work. The research, carried out by the union UCU, found that stress caused by a perceived lack of control at work has increased among higher education staff over the four years from 2008 to 2012.
UCU news releaseRisks 597 • 16 March 2013

Britain: Almost 9 out of 10 council workers are stressed
A staggering 87 per cent of local government workers are struggling to cope with increased stress and pressure at work, research by UNISON has found. The survey of more than 14,000 workers by UNISON discovered a ‘toxic cocktail’ of declining staff numbers and increasing expectations from the public and employers is piling on the pressure.
UNISON news releaseMorning StarRisks 594 • 23 February 2013       

Britain: Everything Everywhere has stress everywhere
Mobile phone firm Everything Everywhere (EE) might be making a healthy profit, but it is also making its workers stressed, research by the union CWU has found. Using Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stress management criteria, the results rate EE as 'urgent action needed' in all seven areas identified as the main risk factors for workplace stress. CWU news release and EE stress surveyRisks 594 • 23 February 2013  

Ireland: Tesco staff wear work rate trackers
Staff at a Tesco warehouse in Ireland have been made to wear digital arm-band devices that constantly police their work rate. The Motorola website promoting the technology tells employers the “rugged mobile computing device will allow you to achieve maximum error-proof productivity, operational efficiency and accuracy through voice compatibility for streamlined warehouse and package handling functions.”
Irish IndependentMotorola websiteRisks 593 • 16 February 2013

Britain: Report slams the ‘tyranny’ of performance management
The ‘relentless pressure’ of punitive performance management systems intended to push up productivity is instead creating a stressed, sick and insecure workforce, a new study has found. ‘Performance management and the new workplace tyranny’ written by Professor Phil Taylor of the University of Strathclyde, is the culmination of a three year study examining the impact new forms of performance management. 
STUC news release‘Performance Management and the New Workplace Tyranny’ Report, Professor Phil Taylor, January 2013 • Executive SummaryThe HeraldRisks 591 • 2 February 2013

Britain: UNISON survey leads to stress action
A UNISON survey of stress problems experienced by council staff in Glasgow has resulted in the employer agreeing to implement a ‘prevention and control’ action plan. The initiative was prompted by concerns raised by UNISON members about the effect spending cuts were having on workloads and workplace pressures.
UNISON news release • UNISON’s Stress at work guide for safety reps and Risk assessment – a guide for UNISON safety reps • Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guide: Managing the causes of work related stress: a step by step approach using the Management StandardsRisks 588 • 12 January 2013

Britain: Teaching stress up, morale down
Stress in teachers is soaring as morale in the profession plummets, analyses published in December 2012 have revealed. NUT general secretary Christine Blower said the findings reflected the pressure teachers were under and warned austerity measures were placing additional strain on staff.
The GuardianBBC News OnlineRisks 588 • 12 January 2013

Britain: Job loss increases heart attack risk
Job loss can raise your heart attack risk as much as smoking, with those who have lost a succession of jobs at higher risk still. A study of 13,451 people in the US found heart attacks increased by over a quarter (27 per cent) among people who were recently unemployed, regardless of occupation.
Matthew E Dupre, Linda K George and others. The cumulative dffect of unemployment on risks for acute myocardial infarction, Achives of Internal Medicine, Online First, November 2012. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.447.  BBC News Online
VJC Mc Carthy, IJ Perry and BA Greiner. Age, job characteristics and coronary health, Occupational Medicine, volume 62, number 8, pages 613-619, 2012. Irish IndependentRisks 583 • 24 November 2012

Britain: Stress ‘timebomb’ ticking at Johnston Press
Overworked journalists facing a stress ‘timebomb’ at work are demanding urgent talks with Johnston Press after the company announced further massive cuts. Journalists’ union NUJ is warning that increased workload and stress levels are endangering both staff and the publications they produce.
NUJ news releaseRisks 582 • 17 November 2012

Britain: Suicide death trauma for train driver
A train driver who suffered psychological injuries when his train killed a suicide victim who had laid his head down on the tracks has received compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS). But his union ASLEF warns cuts to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS) being pushed through by the government will mean train drivers will no longer be able to claim for the trauma caused by witnessing a suicide.
Thompsons Solicitors news releaseRisks 581 • 10 November 2012

Britain: Train driver medically retired after suicide ‘horror’
A London train driver suffered such severe psychological injuries when her train killed a suicide victim she was medically retired as result. RMT member Karen Jordan said: “I am appalled that drivers who might go through what I saw and experienced are to be banned by the government from getting any compensation for the horror. ”
RMT news release and related RMT news releaseMorning StarDaily MirrorRisks 581 • 10 November 2012

Britain: High stress and long hours blight universities
University staff are suffering ‘damaging’ stress levels arising from intense workloads and a long hours culture, union research has found. A report of a UCU survey of 14,000 higher education academic and academic-related staff ranks marked the start of UCU's campaign against excessive workloads in post-16 education.
UCU news release and workload campaignRisks 577 • 13 October 2012

Britain: Teachers angry at official ‘work harder’ jibe
Teachers already facing a pay freeze have expressed anger after England’s chief inspector of schools called on them to ‘work harder’ or face further hardship. The comments from Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw, in a 22 September interview with The Times newspaper, reignited union concerns that the Ofsted chief is fronting government policy and ignoring the serious and damaging stresses of the job.
NASUWT news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 575 • 29 September 2012

Britain: Work stress raises heart risk
A combination of high demand at work and low control over decision making increases the risks of deadly heart problems, a major new report has found. UK researchers analysed 13 existing European studies covering nearly 200,000 people and found “job strain” was linked to a 23 per cent increased risk of heart attacks and deaths from coronary heart disease.
Mika Kivimäki and others. Job strain as a risk factor for coronary heart disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of individual participant data, The Lancet, published online 14 September 2012. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60994-5. BBC News OnlineThe GuardianRisks 574 • 22 September 2012

Britain: Sun stripping stunt exposes bullying culture
Journalists’ union NUJ has expressed dismay after a woman doing work experience for the Sun newspaper was asked to strip off and pose with a member of staff for mocked-up pictures of Prince Harry. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said although 21-year-old Sophie Henderson said she was not forced to do it “she should not have been asked to in the first place.”
NUJ news release and evidence to the Leveson InquiryThe GuardianHuffington PostThe Bureau of Investigative JournalismRisks 571 • 1 September 2012

Britain: Government policy is promoting suicides
The UK recession has led to a sharp rise in suicides, a new study has found. The researchers warn that the government’s austerity programme is not worth the human cost and efforts should instead centre on job creation.
David Stuckler and others. Suicides associated with the 2008-2010 recession in England: time-trend analysis, www.bmj.com, published online 14 July 2012 • Risks 569 • 18 August 2012

Britain: Jobcentre strike over oppressive targets
Jobcentre staff took strike action this week over oppressive working conditions and unrealistic targets. On 13 August, more than 6,000 PCS members in 32 call centres in England, Scotland and Wales reignited industrial action first taken last year against “draconian conditions” they say prevent them from providing the kind of service callers require and deserve.
PCS news releaseRisks 569 • 18 August 2012

Australia: Study confirms insecure work is dangerous
New official Australian research showing casual workers are 50 per cent more likely to be injured at work is solid proof that insecure work leads to unsafe working environments, the country’s top union body has said. ‘Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010’, published by national safety regulator Safe Work Australia, found that casual workers without leave entitlements reported 54 injuries per million hours worked compared with a rate of 35 for those with leave entitlements.
Safe Work Australia news release • Australian work-related injury experience by sex and age, 2009-2010, Safe Work Australia, 30 July 2012 [pdf] • ACTU news releaseABC NewsRisks 567 • 4 August 2012

Canada: Temp workers are falling through cracks
Complex employment relationships, gaps in the regulatory system and job insecurity can leave low-wage temp agency workers more vulnerable to workplace injuries, according to new research from the Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health. Researcher Ellen MacEachen and colleagues found “that low-wage temp agency workers are less well protected because of the complex working relationship in which they find themselves.” At Work, Issue 69, IWH, Summer 2012 and related research presentation, The management of OHS and return-to-work issues in temporary work agencies [pdf] • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012

Britain: Job strain linked to circulatory disease in women
A major US study has linked high strain, active jobs to a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in female health professionals. The study examined the relationship between job strain and job insecurity and rates of CVD among the 22,086 participants in the Women’s Health Study (WHS).
Slopen N, Glynn RJ, Buring JE, Lewis TT, Williams DR and others (2012). Job Strain, Job Insecurity, and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Women’s Health Study: Results from a 10-Year Prospective Study • PLoS ONE 7(7): e40512. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0040512 • Risks 567 • 4 August 2012

Global: ILO spells out why stress at work matters
A decision by a French judge to subject France Telecom and two former top executives to a judicial review regarding their alleged role in a wave of staff suicides highlights the dangers of stress at work, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said. The suicides at France Telecom in 2008 and 2009 coincided with the unfolding global financial crisis and restructuring of the company.
ILO news release and related publications: Stress prevention at work checkpoints, a guide to auditing safety and health controls and SOLVE: Integrating health promotion into workplace OSH policiesFinancial TimesThe GuardianMore on occupational suicidesRisks 564 • 14 July 2012

Japan: Work suicides, heart disease and depression up
Official compensation payouts for work-related suicides and depression in Japan are running at a record high, the health ministry has said. Figures for 2011 reveal the number of payouts approved for work-related mental illnesses climbed to an all-time high of 325 in the 2011 tax year.
Japan TimesRisks 561 • 23 June 2012

Britain: Fewer promotions mean more heart attacks
Civil servants working in departments with high promotion rates were 20 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks, a UK study has found. The authors say their findings reinforce a growing body of research that indicates upward mobility and socioeconomic status have important effects on physical health.
Michael Anderson and Michael Marmot. The effects of promotions on heart disease: Evidence from Whitehall, The Economic Journal, volume 122, issue 561, pages 555–589, June 2012 [abstract] • The ObserverRisks 559 • 9 June 2012

Britain: Teachers dismayed at Ofsted pressure
The head of the schools standards body Ofsted has angered teachers by saying he is not interested in hearing about stress of their jobs. In comments to a May 2012 conference of independent school heads, new chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw said he didn’t want excuses for poor performance, among them “this job is far too stressful.” BBC News OnlineThe ObserverRisks 556 • 19 May 2012

Europe: Industry opposes strain injury rules
Employers’ lobby groups from across Europe are opposing rules to reduce workplace risks from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). In a letter to Antonio Tajani, vice-president of the European Commission’s Industry Committee, and László Andor, the Social Affairs Commissioner, nine European employers’ associations say the European legislative initiative is “neither necessary nor desirable”.
ETUI news reportJoint Employers' letter on MSD [pdf] • Risks 552 • 21 April 2012

Britain: Work pressure makes school staff sick
School workers are falling ill as a result of the pressure of their jobs, teaching unions have warned. ATL has said in the current academic year four in ten education staff have visited the doctor and a quarter taken sick leave because of job pressure.
NUT news releaseATL news releaseRisks 551 • 14 April 2012

Britain: Government makes jobs less secure
Increasing the time before workers are protected from unfair dismissal from one year to two years could leave 2.7 million people at increased risk of losing their jobs, the TUC has warned. Job insecurity has been linked to higher rates of injuries at work and of work-related suicides, sickness and ill-health and has also been shown to drive down productivity.
TUC news releaseBBC News OnlineRisks 550 • • 7 April 2012

Europe: Stress in the workplace to rise
Job-related stress is a concern for the large majority of the workforce, a Europe-wide survey has found. The 2nd European Opinion Poll on Occupational Safety and Health, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), found eight in ten (80 per cent) of the working population across Europe think the number of people suffering from job-related stress over the next five years will increase, with over half (52 per cent) expecting this to ‘increase a lot’.
EU-OSHA news release, full results of the pan-European poll and EU results, country summaries and methodologyRisks 549 • 31 March 2012

Britain: Strain on NHS takes its toll on staff
The government’s handling of the health service is leaving staff facing soaring stress levels, the union UNISON has said. The union was commenting on the publication this week of the official NHS Staff Survey findings for 2011.
UNISON news releaseNHS Staff Survey news release and National NHS Staff Survey Coordination Centre and NHS Information CentreBBC News OnlineRisks 548 • 24 March 2012

China: Call for law to stop overwork deaths
A law to prevent a growing number of deaths related to overwork has been proposed at China’s National's People's Congress (NPC). Hu Xiaoyan, China's first migrant worker elected as a representative of the NPC, made the call during the law-making body’s annual session.
China DailyGlobal Times’ April 2011 report on Pan Jie’s deathRisks 547 • 17 March 2012

Stress Network Annual Conference, 23-25 November 2012
The National Work Stress Network’s 2012 conference will be held in Rednal, near Birmingham on the weekend of 23-25 November. Marking the bicentenary this year of the birth of Charles Dickens, the event has a theme of ‘Hard Times, Great Expectations and Victorian values – combatting workplace stress in hostile times.”
National Work Stress Network conference, 23-25 November 2012, Hillscourt Conference Centre, Rednal, Nr Birmingham B45 8RS. Flyer and booking form [pdf]Risks 545 • 3 March 2012

Britain: NUJ condemns ‘bullying newsroom culture’
Journalists are being bullied by newspaper management and put under huge pressure to deliver the story at all costs, the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics has heard. Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the media union NUJ, gave evidence compiled from personal interviews with journalists that reveals what NUJ describes as a shocking catalogue of bullying and abuse in the newspaper industry.
NUJ news releaseLeveson Inquiry and pages including NUJ evidenceRisks 543 • 18 February 2012

Britain: Excessive working time causes depression
A new study has concluded that working long hours - regardless of job stress or satisfaction - increases the risk of depression. Researchers at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and University College London followed nearly 2,000 middle-aged British civil servants for almost six years.
TUC Touchstone blog. Marianna Virtanen and others. Overtime work as a predictor of major depressive episode: A 5-year follow-up of the Whitehall II Study, PLoS ONE, volume 7, number 1, published online 25 January 2012. CBS NewsRisks 541 • 4 February 2012

Global: ILO workplace stress prevention checkpoints
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a manual of “easy-to-apply checkpoints for identifying stressors in working life and mitigating their harmful effects.” According to ILO the negative impacts of stress “can lead to poor work performance, high accident and injury rates, and low productivity.”
Stress Prevention at Work Checkpoints. Practical improvements for stress prevention in the workplace, ILO, January 2012 [full text pdf] • Developing a workplace stress prevention programmeRisks 538 • 14 January 2012

Britain: Tackle teacher stress or pay, says union
Schools must tackle soaring teacher stress, Scottish teaching union EIS has said. The union was speaking out after revealing the union had settled a six figure out-of-court compensation claim for a member who suffered a stress-related psychiatric injury after the employer failed to act on a series of warnings about excessive workloads.
EIS news releaseThe ScotsmanRisks 538 • 14 January 2012

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