Australian Workers Suffering from 'Silent Scourge' of Stress

by VR Sreeraman on Oct 20 2008 4:29 PM

 Australian Workers Suffering from
The survey commissioned by the Queensland Council of Unions has revealed that about a third of workers have been suffering from the stress caused by overwork, gruelling shifts, inter-office conflicts, and abusive customers.
During the study, people were asked to rate their main health and safety concern in the workplace.

The stress of shifts, workload and conflict with colleagues topped the list with one in seven workers rating it as their biggest worry.

Another 10 per cent were found to be concerned about aggressive customers, clients, patients, or students.

Four per cent said that abusive bosses were the prime problem for them.

QCU secretary Ron Monaghan said that the poll had brought to light those psychological injuries on workers that have been largely hidden to date.

An analysis of calls to the council’s worker’s compensation information hotline supported the results, with over a third of callers reporting stress at work.

Abuse, bullying, overwork, and relentless shifts were revealed to be major causes of stress by the callers.

"These serious concerns have a deep impact on the working and private life of workers, not to mention productivity in the workplace,'' quoted Monaghan as saying.

He also revealed that many workers had been suffering in silence because only 2.5 per cent of WorkCover and other workplace insurance claims related to psychological injuries.

"People still think an injury has to be physical to be claimed, even though psychological injury can have a far more devastating impact than a broken ankle,'' he said.

"The problem is not just with workers reluctant to claim. The reality is the law makes it hard to prove work is the cause of psychological injury, rending successful claims less likely than for broken bones.

"People know the law is stacked against them,” he added.

Monaghan feared that unreported and unaddressed psychological injuries could worsen, cause even more harm to workers, and further reduce their productivity.

Female workers were more likely to be affected by aggressive or abusive customers, according to the poll.

Women were also more susceptible to repetitive work injuries from assembly line or computer jobs, said the surveyors.

Over a third of retail and sales employees said that their biggest complaint was manual lifting, while chemicals and dust were the main problem for skilled labourers.


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