Headlines: August 28th, 2002

The GMB union wants urgent legislative action on workplace stress. It believes that employers and enforcement authorities are not taking the issue seriously despite the fact that it is estimated to cost employers about 370 million pounds and society about 3.75 billion pounds a year.The union is critical of the current trend of promoting alternative therapies such as massage and aromatherapy in the workplace, because it believes it raises the danger of trivialising what is a workplace killer. It quotes examples of employers bringing in masseurs, having lunchtime yoga sessions and even bringing in clowns for employees who are working in stressful environments. It compares the situation to ignoring a wet floor and putting a plaster cast on someone every time they slip over on the floor and break a bone.

The legislation the GMB advocates is an Approved Code of Practice on stress, outlining clearly the use of risk assessment and management standards. Recent Health and Safety Executive sponsored research into work related stress in hospitals found that risk management approach can be effectively and cheaply implemented to prevent or control workplace stress.

The union will pursue its campaign for legislation in The European Week of Safety and Health starting on 14th October 2002. The Week will focus on psychosocial issues including stress and violence