Saturday, January 26, 2008

Work stress causes heart disease

Today’s TUC Email Newsletter on health & safety “Risks” has a very interesting article on recent research that appears to directly link work related stress with heart disease.

“Stressed workers suffer a greatly increased risk of heart disease, a study of UK civil servants has found. Stressful jobs have a direct biological impact on the body, the research indicated. The study reported online by the European Heart Journal focused on more than 10,000 British civil servants, part of the ongoing Whitehall II study. Those under 50 who said their work was stressful were 68 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than the stress-free”.

A 68% increase is significant. In my previous job I tried unsuccessfully to ask the employer to record and report incidents of heart disease and strokes to the safety committee, so we could try and identify if certain jobs were in fact prone to stress related illness. That request got no where fast.

Should I in the future ask trade union members who have suffered heart disease and who work in stress full jobs to fill in an accident/incident report?


ian said...

Yes, John I think you should.

How many members have you known that have been signed off by doctors with 'workplace/work related stress'?

I know of many and will be suggesting that they put it in the accident books asap.

I will advise it Monday morning.

Dont know what the gaffer will say about it, but I could imagine.


John Gray said...

Hi Ian
I know exactly what the gaffers will say! However, I think you are on solid ground for certificated workplace stress.

Anyone with a heart condition is trickier. However, this is a “report” not a conclusion. So it is up to management to investigate this report, take advice and take appropriate action if necessary. They may decide that there is insufficient evidence that this illness is work-related. However, it should make them think about stress at work. Such reports would be helpful I think in any future sickness meetings.

Sean said...

We always advise members the accident/incident reports are for them to record work related issues that cause an adverse effect to their health.For example where incidnets involving the public, managers or colleagues have caused them to suffer stress or be off work. More than once such evidence has proved useful in representing their interests at a later date.

John Gray said...

Good point Sean (never thought I would say that!). What it potentially new is should we consider advising members to report heart/stroke conditions as being possibly “work related” ill health? I think yes – not least since it should be a factor to be considered in any return to work programme or adaptations.

Anonymous said...

Hi! John
In regards to heart disease considered as a work place "injury" I'm finding this is a minefield. However being a shiftworker (10 years) enduring 18 months of bullying/stress and ending up with two heart conditions (no pre existing dianosed) I beleive this should be listed in the injury book. Liz

John Gray said...

Hi Liz
In such circumstances I quite agree.

Hope things work out better for you in future?