British workers worry about stress and laptops

New figures from the Health and Safety Executive show that just over a fifth of British workers are concerned about work-related stress, which costs 13 million working days a year. But PC and laptop users are also expressing health concerns.

HSE has produced guidance for employers with stress management standards to help employers. In the survey of over 10,000 workers, around 40% thought that the risk of stress in the workplace could be realistically reduced. However, less than a third said that their employers had taken preventative action to reduce stress levels in the workplace.

Around three-quarters of the two million workers who self-reported ill health in 2004/2005 had musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. upper limb or back problems) or stress, depression or anxiety. There were 200,000 more such reports the previous year.

An estimated 62% of workers used a desktop PC or a laptop in their job during an average working day. Amongst these users, an estimated 62% had received health and safety training, guidance or information on the use of their machine and the layout of their workstation. Most workers (90%) who had received training, guidance or information were very or fairly confident that this would help prevent them from developing a health problem.

While 10% of PC or laptop users indicated that the risk of developing a health problem had reduced during the last 12 months, 78% indicated no change and 8.6% an increase. Amongst users, just over one-quarter felt the risk of developing a health problem could be reduced and 11% were quite or very concerned that the use of a PC or laptop in their job could cause them harm, representing an estimated 7.1% of the working population.

Workers identified various risks to which they are exposed which they feared could cause them harm. Stress came at the top of the list, with 22% citing it. PC or laptop use came fifth, with 7.1%. In between were: lifting or carrying heavy loads by hand; dust and fumes that could cause respiratory conditions; and slips and trips.

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