High stress and inactivity remain a big risk
Too many Australian workers continue to face the dangers of high stress and not enough exercise.
Although the proportion of Australian workers feeling stressed has decreased, the figures remain high, fluctuate and, in some cases, are incomplete. From 2004 to 2014, the proportion of Australian workers feeling moderate to high levels of stress fluctuated between 58 and 71.8 per cent, said the recently released ‘Health Profile of Australian Employees’. “The lowest rate was recorded in 2014, however, the data were incomplete in that year, which may contribute to the lower results,” the profile added.
A similar situation characterises psychological distress, which a large proportion of Australian workers continue to feel. “Over a six-year period (2009–2014) psychological distress levels fluctuated, with the proportion in the ‘implement lifestyle strategies’ or ‘recommend to GP’ categories peaking at 40 per cent in 2011 and dropping to 36.2 per cent in 2014,” the profile reported.
The profile also examined the physical health of Australian workers, showing that a large proportion of workers still fail to participate in adequate physical activity. “Overall the proportion of workers with inadequate aerobic activity or no regular exercised declined between 2004 and 2014 (from 64 per cent to 46.1 per cent). This is despite a peak of 66.5 per cent in 2012,” the profile said.
The risk of harm from alcohol consumption has improved. “The lifetime risk of harm from alcohol consumption fluctuated from 12.1 per cent in 2004 to a peak of 15.5 per cent in 2009. The prevalence then tended to decrease, and remained below the national prevalence (20 per cent) during this period,” the profile reported.
The proportion of smokers continued to decline, decreasing between 2004 and 2014 from 20.5 per cent to 10 per cent, the profile added.
Lack of exercise, psychological stress and distress, alcohol consumption and smoking “have been associated with chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and mental illness”, said the Workplace Health Association Australia (WHAA) in a media statement.
WHAA, in conjunction with the University of Wollongong, conducted the research for the profile, drawing upon the workplace health assessments of 30,000 Australian workers over the past decade.
For more details, download the profile
Published on 18 June 2015 in the NSCA Foundation Safe-T-Bulletin.