Health & Safety

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HSE Report: Work-Related Stress 2016

6 February 2017

A report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), concludes that work-related stress remains one of the top causes of sickness absence.

doctor examining male patient

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.

Stress - Huge Impact on Sick Leave

The latest figures on stress for Great Britain reveal that, in 2015/16, it accounted for 37% of all work related ill-health cases and 45% of all working days lost due to illness.

In the HSE report the statistics also show that the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety over that period was 488,000. That equates, the HSE points out, to a prevalence rate of 1510 per 100,000 workers.

There were 224,000 new cases in 2015/16 - an incidence rate of 690 per 100,000 workers.

Overall, 11.7 million working days were lost due to work-related stress during 2015/16, equivalent to an average of 23.9 days lost per case. The HSE notes that working days lost per worker showed a generally downward trend to around 2009/10, since when the rate has been broadly flat.

What is Work-Related Stress?

Work-related stress is defined as a harmful reaction that people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.

Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, the HSE points out, including education, health and social care, defense and public administration. According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the predominant cause of work-related stress is workload and particularly very tight deadlines, too much work, or too much pressure or responsibility.

A lack of managerial support, organisational changes at work, violence, and a lack of clarity about a job have also been identified as factors leading to stress.

Compared with all workplaces combined, small enterprises had significantly lower rates of workplace stress anxiety and depression, the HSE highlighted, with medium and large enterprises having significantly higher rates.