- Free awareness raising video
- Information on stress
- Advice on spotting symptoms
- What to do about stress
- British Safety Council's young people campaign
What is stress
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
Many of life’s demands can cause stress, particularly work, relationships and money problems. It can arise from work or outside work, and you can see the statistics on work-related stress here. But whatever the cause, being stressed while you're at work is a risk to you and others. This information is to help you spot stress symptoms and suggest what to do.
Your health and safety
Stress is known to be a significant cause of sickness absence from work. What is less discussed is how stress can endanger lives. Evidence shows that stress can significantly contribute to the toll of injury that in sectors like construction, transport or agriculture is still too high. Some evidence shows that 60-80% of accidents are related to work stress.
It is known that stress can undermine your ability to think and make good judgements, and this can make it more likely that you will have an accident at work. This can be fatal if you are doing hazardous work like using ladders or scaffolding, driving or operating machinery.
Spotting the symptoms
Stress can affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. In fact, common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
You may feel anxious, irritable or low in self-esteem, and you may have racing thoughts, worry constantly or go over things in your head. You may notice that you lose your temper more easily, drink more, smoke or act unreasonably.
What to do
If you feel like you are not coping, a good start is to speak to your supervisor or manager. If it is your work activities that are causing you stress, they will need this information to help them identify workplace stressors. If the stress is coming from outside work they may help you cope better by, for example, talking through triggers for stress or adjusting your work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has some useful information to help you deal with stress.
You can also take action to reduce your stress. Taking care of yourself, exercise, not drinking excessively or smoking will help. The NHS has useful information on 10 Stress Busters to help you.
You can also ask your GP about attending a stress support group.