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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.

With many Australians continuing to rate the workplace as a source of stress, maybe the answer is to go home on time?

Over the past four years, about 44 per cent of Australian workers have rated workplace issues as a source of stress, says the ‘Stress and wellbeing in Australia survey 2014’ conducted by the Australian Psychological Society (APS).

When it comes to job stress, “working Australians reported similar levels of job stress to those reported in 2013, but significantly higher when compared with findings in 2012 and 2011”, the survey says.

Overall workplace wellbeing measures have also remained much the same for the past two years. “Working Australians reported similar levels of overall workplace wellbeing to those reported in 2013, but significantly lower when compared with findings in 2012 and 2011,” the survey states.

One of the interesting findings of the survey notes that “… support from work colleagues (less than two in five Australians) and support from community groups or organisations (just over one in three Australians) were reported the least by Australians as helpful strategies for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

One way to combat stress may be to go home from work on time each day. Wednesday was Go Home On Time Day. “On any given day, 2.8 million Australians have little certainty around what time they will finish work …” says The Australia Institute.

“That’s the equivalent of one in four workers regularly having to juggle their other commitments, such as child care, social activities or important appointments, because of the unpredictability of their job.”

“Many Australians continue to struggle with the idea of saying no to last-minute meetings at the end of a working day, or turning their smartphone to silent when they get home, and numerous studies have shown that workers are more productive if they take scheduled breaks and annual leave,” says Dr Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute’s executive director.

For more details, visit the APS survey and Go Home On Time Day

Published on 20 November 2014 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin

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.

Work is a source of stress for almost half of Australian workers, says a new Australian Psychological Society (APS) online survey.

The APS conducted the survey of 1548 people over two-and-a-half weeks from 18 July to 5 August 2013.

From this it identified a sub-sample of 999 Australian workers. Some 61 per cent were employed full-time, 30 per cent part-time and 9 per cent were employed under other arrangements.

The APS compared the results of this year’s survey with surveys it had conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Similar to previous years, in 2013 almost half of the respondents (47 per cent) rated work as a source of stress.

The survey also found that as workers got older concern about work as a source of stress decreased except for those aged between 46 and 52.

These workers “reported the same levels of concern about workplace as a source of stress (52 per cent) as the youngest group of working Australians (18- to 25-year-olds reporting 53 per cent)”, according to the survey.

Among other results, less than half of Australian workers said they “regularly received relevant feedback and recognition for their work”.

However, half said “their employer valued their contribution and cared about their wellbeing”.

For more details, see the APS for the full report.

Published on 21 November 2013 in NSCA Safe-T-Bulletin.


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