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Half of European workers think work-related stress is common in their workplaces and many employers don’t know how to handle psychosocial risks, according to a recent opinion poll.

The poll conducted by the European Union’s Occupational Safety and Health Agency (EU-OSHA) found that 51 per cent of workers said work-related stress was common in their workplace and 40 per cent said stress was not handled well in their organisation.

On top of this, a significant proportion of employers find psychosocial risks difficult to manage. “Despite the increasing presence and costs of workplace stress, there is still significant misunderstanding and sensitivity around it – EU-OSHA’s ESENER survey found that over 40 per cent of employers consider psychosocial risks more difficult to manage than ‘traditional’ occupational safety and health risks,” Director of EU-OSHA, Dr Christa Sedlatschek said.

Ignoring workplace stress is not an option. “Workplaces cannot afford to ignore work-related stress, which increases absenteeism and lowers productivity. The forthcoming EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at work 2014-20 will underline that better protection of workers’ mental health is a key factor to prevent work-related diseases,” EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, László Andor said:

EU-OSHA has launched a two-year Europe-wide campaign: ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’.

For more details, visit the EU.

Published on 10 April 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Australia must undertake a new body-sizing survey if designers are to meet their obligations under the model work health and safety laws, says a recent report.

According to the report ‘Sizing up Australia – the next step’, “… whilst there is a regulatory thrust to embed work health and safety into the design process, designers do not have available to them key data about the population for which they are designing.”

The report says the gap in the data “can only be filled by a well-constructed and well-executed anthropometric measurement survey of a representative sample of Australian people”.

Australia must develop the scientific parameters to conduct this survey, which could then be used as a national resource, the report adds.

As the cost of such a survey would be significant, the report suggests two user-pay models to fund it. “They combine the allocation of a set number of measurements that would be determined by general consensus between all stakeholders, regardless of their level of funding contribution, with a second and larger allocation of measurements that survey sponsors can determine,” the report says.

“The number of measures that a funding stakeholder could determine would be directly proportional to their level of contribution.”

A third funding model would involve the Australian Government funding the “basic survey and a consortium of partners concurrently [contributing] funding to the user applications”, the report adds.

For more details visit the report.

Published on 16 January 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

A significant proportion of nurses and midwives will leave the nursing profession over the next 12 months due to high workloads, says a new survey.

Monash University Department of Management conducted a national survey of nurses and midwives on behalf of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF).

The survey follows on from one conducted in 2011.

The latest results from 2012 show that 23 per cent of nurses and midwives are likely to leave the profession in the next year. This is an eight per cent increase on the last survey.

Also, 33 per cent nurses and midwives frequently think about leaving and 41 per cent will explore other career opportunities.

“More nurses than ever are contemplating leaving the profession due to heavy workloads and a lack of recognition and respect within their organisation,” says Monash University researcher Dr Belinda Allen in a media release.

An inadequate nurse-to-patient ratio is a key problem. “This concern is widespread across the profession – it is not just limited to staff in hospitals but also in mental health and aged care,” Allen said.

Also, almost half of the respondents said “they did not feel confident that senior management would treat them fairly or could be trusted to make sensible decision in relation to their organisation’s future”, Allen added.

“Many indicated senior management showed poor recognition and respect for nursing work, highlighted by the number of nurses being reduced first when budget cuts were required, thereby increasing the workload on the remaining staff.”

Some 23 per cent of nurses and midwives who responded to the survey are working double shifts, ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said in a media statement.

“Nurses and midwives are stressed and exhausted and are working under conditions which are putting safe patient care at risk. In one instance, two nurses on night duty caring for 23 mentally unstable patients,” Thomas said.

For more details, visit Monash University and ANMF.

Published on 12 September 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.

Stepathlon is a 100-day race around a virtual world – it encourages activity in a simple, inclusive and fun way to complement hectic lifestyles.  Stepathlon aims to break the ‘cycle of sedentary behaviour’ and transform the sedentary into active, and the active into more active.

The event commences on 12 September and concludes on 20 December 2013.  Build your team of 5 and each team member gets a 3D accelerometer (like a pedometer, but much more advanced so you can wear it around your neck), backpack and cap.

Stepathlon was co-founded by Shane Bilsborough, also one of the founders of the Global Corporate Challenge, an event he started in 2002 before leaving to start Stepathlon in 2011.  Shane is also the Chief Wellness Officer of the Australian arm of the Stepathlon event.

In 2012 there were over 21,000 people (including 42 CEOs) from 20 countries in Stepathlon, and 2013 is shaping up to be even bigger and better.

For more information on building your team of 5 to join the Stepathlon community please visit www.stepathlon.com or contact Shane Bilsborough at shane.bilsborough@stepathlon.com or 0415 842 057.

Asking workmates if they are okay contributes to health and wellbeing and suicide prevention.

World Suicide Prevention day is on 10 September, and this year’s theme is Stigma: A Barrier to Suicide Prevention.

‘In Australia each year, 2,500 people die by suicide and over 65,000 will attempt to take their life,’ says Suicide Prevention Australia (SPA).

Sue Murray, CEO of SPA, wants Australians to speak openly about suicide and create a community where people give and seek help.

To support this goal, SPA has partnered with ‘R U OK?Day’, including ‘R U OK? at work’, which will be held on 12 September.

‘There’s … an emerging body of research which links supportive social relationships and a sense of social connection with protective factors in suicide prevention,’ says the R U OK? website.

‘With workplaces feeling the impact of lost productivity, absenteeism, presenteeism and high job turnover, taking time to regularly and meaningfully ask ‘are you ok?’ is something we can all do to increase individual and workplace wellbeing,’ the website adds.

If you need immediate help and support call Life Line on 13 11 44

For more details, visit World Suicide Prevention Day and R U OK? at work.


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