European Week for Safety and Health at Work

Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

Monday 20th October 2014

Today (Monday 20th October) marks the beginning of European Week for Safety and Health at Work. This year's theme is 'Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress' and organisations are being urged to proactively manage psychosocial issues such as stress and bullying in the workplace.

Research undertaken by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) indicates that 10% of work-related illness is stress related costing European employers an estimated €20 billion per year and that over 40% of employers consider psychosocial risks more difficult to manage than 'traditional' risks. The main obstacles cited by employers are 'sensitivity of the issue' and 'lack of expertise'.

Martin O'Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said, "A positive psychosocial work environment can enhance the health and well-being of workers and stimulate increased productivity. Good business performance with low absenteeism and staff turnover rates can be achieved as a result. This campaign emphasises that managing stress and psychosocial risks at work has significant benefits for workers, employers and the exchequer".

"There is a lot of misunderstanding and sensitivity around psychosocial risks in the workplace and there is still a stigma around mental health. Although tackling work-related stress and psychosocial risks may seem challenging, it can be managed just like any other workplace safety and health issue, in a logical and systematic way. There are multiple positive outcomes in tackling psychosocial risks; it creates a healthy work environment in which workers feel valued, the workplace culture is more positive and, consequently, business performance improves".

Also announced today are the winners of the Irish leg of the 2014 European Good Practice Awards. Focus Ireland and Navan Dairy Discussion Group have been chosen to represent Ireland in the European leg of the competition and will now go forward to compete on the European stage.

Speaking about the award winners Martin O'Halloran said, "I congratulate Focus Ireland and Navan Dairy Discussion Group on the commitment they have shown to managing psychosocial risks in their work environments and wish them every success in the European leg of the competition. The standard of entry was very high and it is encouraging that many organisations are taking the psychological welfare of their employees very seriously".