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October 2010

Stress is top concern for safety reps in 2010

Stress, bullying and harassment, back strains, slips, trips and falls, and overwork top the list of workers' safety concerns, according to the TUC's biennial survey of safety reps, carried out by the Labour Research Department

The 2010 survey finds that stress is by far the most common health and safety problem at work. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of reps say that stress is in the top five of problems faced by the workforces they represent.

More than a quarter of reps (27%) pick out stress as the hazard at work that most concerns them. The TUC survey reveals that stress is most often found in the public than in the private sector - just over two-thirds (68%) of public sector union reps say it is a problem compared to just over half (54%) in the private sector.

Stress is more prevalent in larger workplaces and is most common in London - 70% of reps in the capital cite it as an issue - than in any other part of the UK.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The economic crisis and redundancies have created more anxiety about job security, and as the spending cuts begin to bite and even more jobs start to go, stress at work is bound to increase."

"Unions and employers must work together to combat stress at work as it can have a devastating impact on workers and a damaging cost on businesses."

Bullying and harassment is this year's second most common health and safety concern. More than a third of reps (37%) list it as a top five concern in the workplace - almost double the proportion who cited it as an issue in 2008. It is more prevalent in the public sector than the private sector, and the larger the workplace, the more likely it is to be a concern.

Back strains constitute the third most frequently mentioned hazard, with a third of reps saying this was a top five concern for their workplaces, slightly up on the 31% figure two years ago.

Slips, trips and falls is again the fourth most common hazard identified, roughly the same proportion - 32% in 2010 against 33% in 2008 - regarding it as one of the top five causes for concern.

Overwork is listed as a separate issue to stress for the first time in the survey, and it is the fifth most likely hazard to be identified as a major concern with more than one in four (29%) of safety reps listing it as one their top five issues.

For full report see


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