||Issue No. 190||08 August 2003|
Interview: The New Deal
Unions: In the Line of Hire
Culture: Too Cool for the Collective?
International: The Domino Effect
Industrial: A Spanner in the Works
National Focus: Gathering of the Tribes
History: The Welcome Nazi Tourist
Bad Boss: Domm, Domm Turn Around
Poetry: Just Move On.
Review: Reality Bites
The Locker Room
The Fifth Column
Aussies Enter Karoshi Zone
Emphasising the link between workplace stress and death, the UK Hazards initiated Worked to Death site reveals that in Japan instances of karoshi are so common they have named it and made it a government compensated occupational disease.
But the Worked to Death campaign webpage shows that karoshi is a global phenomenon.
Changing work practices, the demise of job security, escalating demands, and violence and bullying in the workplace are all leading to tired and stressed out employees prone to heart attacks, strokes, disease and depression and more likely to take their own lives.
UK research shows that employees exposed to stress for at least half their working lives are 25 percent more likely to die from a heart attack and have 50 percent greater odds of suffering a fatal stroke. The research conducted by the UK's Trade Union Congress exposes stress as Britain's number one health hazard.
In Australia one of the leading causes of stress is overwork and incidences of the condition are on the rise. According to Australian research:
* The ACTU says Australia has the second longest working hours in the OECD and, on current trends, will soon have the longest. It says 31% of Australian employees now work hours that would be illegal in Europe, adding that we now have one of the worst records in the world.
* Teachers are one of the most overworked of all professions, with escalating demands now reaching titanic proportions. A new survey by the Australian Psychological Society says about 30% of university academic staff responding to its survey said they were working more than 55 hours a week, more than 11 hours per day. Yet a study of work related stress in Japan showed men working 11 hours were two and a half times more likely to suffer a heart attack than those working an eight hour day.
* NSW WorkCover says cases of occupational stress jumped 21% between 1999/2000 and 2000/2001, with female incidences increasing at a faster rate than males.
* Meanwhile, a national health survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics says about 11.2 percent of the workforce is taking an average of three days sick leave each fortnight in an attempt to cope with stress levels.
NSW Labor Council's occupational health and safety watchdog Mary Yaager says the research shows stress is a major problem.
"Australian employers are literally working their staff to death, with on the job stress, violence and fatigue edging their way up to become major causes of workplace fatalities.
"Stress and depression are caused by people not being able to balance their work and family lives, by workplace violence, long hours, a lack of fulfilment and fatigue.
"Escalating demands as a result of downsizing without taking the wellbeing of employees into account mean they have been forced to take on more and more responsibilities with less and less support.
"This is just one way the changing labour market is favouring practices that contribute to rising employee stress levels.
"Employers in the short-term might be maximising profits but this situation is not sustainable and unfortunately it is the workers that are paying the deadly price," Mrs Yaager says.
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