stressed worker

Stress Avoidance Guidance Perfectly Timed

Dramatic losses in many of the world's stock markets and a warning that 20 million more people could become unemployed as a result appear to be causing workers' stress levels to skyrocket. The U.S. House Committee on Education and Labor held a hearing Oct. 24 that disclosed the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. had suffered stock losses of $4 billion during FY2008, and a national survey of working adults commissioned by Workplace Options showed U.S. workers are increasingly fearful about job security and are reducing their personal spending as a result.

The financial crisis could increase world unemployment by an estimated 20 million women and men, Director-General Juan Somavia of the International Labour Office warned Oct. 20. "We need prompt and coordinated government actions to avert a social crisis that could be severe, long-lasting and global," he said.

Britain's Health and Safety Executive urged stakeholders to join it in supporting National Stress Awareness Day on Nov. 5. "Don't Worry Take Action" is the theme of this year's International Stress Management campaign; HSE asks employers to use the HSE Management Standards, which invite employers to work with employees and their representatives to reduce work stress. The standards address five areas: 1) hazard identification, 2) deciding who might be harmed and how, 3) risk evaluation, 4) taking action and recording findings, and 5) monitoring and review.

HSE said it will launch a new stress Web site in February 2009 that will include the latest information about the Management Standards and an extra tool for line managers. The agency's stress resources are located at this page.

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