European health and safety week focuses on stress

The 2002 European week for safety and health and work, held in October, centred on the increasingly visible problem of work-related stress. Events were held in the EU Member States, the candidate countries and EFTA countries.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work organised the annual European week for safety and health at work during October 2002. Entitled Working on stress, the week was part of the new strategy on work-related stress and psychosocial risks launched by the Agency on 2 July 2002 (EU0208202N).

The Agency estimates that some 28% of employees in the EU are affected by stress at work and that between 50% and 60% of absence from work can be linked to work-related stress. The Agency states that one of the most common causes of stress is lack of control at work, with 35% of EU employees maintaining that they have no control over the order of their tasks and 55% saying that they cannot influence how long they work. Other relevant factors include monotony, tight deadlines and bullying at the workplace.

A range of events was organised to celebrate the week in EU Member States and candidate countries, and in the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) countries, aimed at safety and health institutions, trade unions, companies, managers, employees and safety representatives at the workplace. Each country decided on the precise week within October to be treated as the week for safety and health at work. Themes examined and activities undertaken included risk assessment, training, the distribution of information, the setting up of workplace policies, encouragement of employee participation in health and safety issues, networking and linking up with other organisations.

In order to help the parties involved address stress at work, the Agency has developed a range of tools, including a guide entitled How to tackle psychosocial issues and reduce work-related stress, a checklist to diagnose and deal with stress, entitled Practical advice for workers on tackling work-related stress and its causes, and a dedicated website containing a range of relevant information.

The winners of the Agency’s European good practice awards for organisations that have most successfully tackled work-related stress were set to be announced during November.

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