Special Topics in Safety Management

Stress, Mental Health, and Workplace Safety

There’s no denying it. Mental health issues, particularly stress, are an unavoidable aspect of doing business in the 21st century.

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The causes are myriad. Long work hours—longer than any time in history and longer than any other industrial nation. Conflicts between work and family life, when really these things should be complementing each other. The feeling of little or no control over job and environment. The pressure to produce.

Stress is part of life, you say? Stress is a minor inconvenience to workers and a small price to pay for a steady job?

Consider this.

In a given year, American companies incur:

  • $46 billion in excess annual health care due to job demands
  • $24 billion extra due to work-family conflict
  • $13 billion extra due to stress caused by long hours
  • $11 billion extra due to stress caused by employees feeling they have no or low control over their job situation
  • $94 billion yearly. Not to mention approximately 300 million lost work days per year due to sick days and long-term leaves.

(Figures from Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford School of Business—“Dying for a Paycheck”)

Still think stress is no big deal? Because it is.

Join us for a free webinar this month to learn more about how stress and mental health impact safety at your workplace.

And it’s not exactly hard to see it, once you know what to look for.

Employees who look exhausted because their sleep is impacted. Employees who are skipping meals and breaks. Employees taking work home, returning emails after 11 PM or on vacation, or cancelling days off because they feel they are behind. A sudden increase in sick days. Noticeable decreases in the quality or quantity of work product. An increase in complaints about an employee.

Hopefully, the problem can be caught at this level. Because what comes next is much more drastic, and, if you’re an employer, troubling. Arguments between employees. Emotional outbursts. Threats towards co-workers. Incidents of violence.

In fact, many employees would happily quit high-stress workplaces, if they could only muster up the mental and physical energy to do so.

However…all is not lost. As workplace advocates and leaders, there are steps you can take to not only recognize these issues before they rear their heads, but that you can take to prevent them from even beginning.

  • Talking about stress or other mental health issues with co-workers or management is not weird. The impacts of stress are more common than most people realize and talking about it normalizes the experience for all involved and reduces the stigma around mental health.
  • You can’t completely prevent or prepare for workplace stress. There’s no medicine that does that. You can, however, prepare by building your resilience established routines help preserve health and wellness.
  • Experiencing stress does not make you a bad employee, and it must be remembered that you can recover from mental health issues or manage your symptoms well enough to life a meaningful and productive life.

While these concepts can seem overwhelming, you can learn how to put them into practice. Please join us on Thursday, March 21st, 2019 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Pacific for: Strategies to Manage Stress in Your Workplace

Sponsored by Avetta, presented by EHS Daily Advisor, and hosted by Brian Knowler.

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