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Stress is top concern at work, union reps warn

Stress is the top concern in UK workplaces, according to a new TUC survey of trade union health and safety representatives published today (Friday).

  • New TUC surveys find stress is top problem in UK workplaces
  • Other concerns include bullying, harassment and overwork

Stress is the top concern in UK workplaces, according to a new TUC survey of trade union health and safety representatives published today (Friday). 

Seven in ten (70%) of the reps taking part in the TUC’s 12th biennial survey – published ahead of World Mental Health Day next week (Wednesday 10 October) – said that stress is one of the main concerns they have to deal with at work.  

The top five reported problems were: 

  • Stress: Concern over stress is higher in the public sector than the private sector. It’s especially common in central government (90% of reps cited it as a top-five concern), health services (85%), and education (84%). And it is the biggest concern in workplaces of every size and in every region of England, Wales and Scotland. 
  • Bullying and harassment: 45% of safety reps put bullying and harassment in their top five concerns. It’s most common in local and central government. And is more of a problem in larger workplaces – with 100 or more employees – than smaller ones. 
  • Overwork: Concern around workloads is much more widespread in the public sector (with 43% of reps citing it) than the private sector (27%). It’s a major problem in central government, has risen in health services and is high in education. 
  • Slips, trips and falls: Concern over slips, trips and falls is much more prevalent in the private sector (43%), where it is the third most common concern, than the public sector (23%). 
  • Violence and threats: One in four (23%) of reps said this was a problem at work. 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “It’s easy to make light of ‘health and safety culture’. But it’s no joke lying awake at night from stress, falling ill through working long hours, or being subjected to bullying in the office. 

“Employers and managers need to do more to identify and reduce risks and to provide support to employees struggling to cope. 

“Unionised workplaces are safer workplaces. I’d advise anyone worried about health and safety at work to join their union, to get their concerns raised and their voices heard.”