Speech: Managing stress at work
European Commission - SPEECH/14/296 07/04/2014
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Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
Managing stress at work
Launch of the "Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2014-2015
Brussels, 7 April 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be here with you today, to mark the launch of the new Healthy Workplaces Campaign 2014-2015. First, I would like to congratulate the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work for organising this important Campaign.
The European Commission is firmly committed to protecting the health and safety of workers. This campaign's theme, "Managing stress and psychosocial risks at work", addresses one of the most significant challenges in respect of health and safety at work. And I am sure, you as journalists know all too well how difficult it can be to cope with stress sometimes.
Stress is the second most frequently reported work-related health problem. Indeed, in Europe, stress is believed to be the cause of more than half of all lost working days. Workers affected by stress find it difficult to concentrate, make more mistakes and are subject to more frequent accidents at work. Prolonged psychological pressure may result in serious health problems such as cardiovascular or musculoskeletal diseases.
In addition to the adverse effects of stress on workers' health and wellbeing, the economic impact on businesses and on social protection systems is huge because stress-related health problems increase absenteeism and lower productivity.
Addressing stress and psychosocial risks is one of the challenges addressed by the forthcoming EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020, due to be presented in June.
One of the main messages of the campaign should be that stress and psychological risks can be effectively managed. Psychosocial risks can and should be managed in the same systematic way as any other occupational safety and health risk to better protect the health of workers.
First, managing work-related stress is vital for ensuring the health, safety and well-being of European workers. Improving the protection of the mental health of workers is key to preventing stress-related diseases.
Second, managing work-related stress also leads to an overall improvement in business performance and long term-business sustainability through higher quality work output, lower operating costs and reduced staff turnover.
A positive working environment not only allows employees to work longer, but means that when they retire they are still in good health. I am convinced that the new EU-OSHA campaign on stress and psychosocial risks at work will contribute significantly to achieving this objective.
The Agency is investing heavily in this campaign in terms of effort and resources and this will pay dividends for both workers and businesses and in turn benefit the competitiveness of the EU economy and European society as a whole.
The new Healthy Workplaces Campaign will provide workers and employers with simple and practical tools to deal with psychosocial risks and will raise awareness of the positive effects of prevention in this field. I extend my warmest wishes to the Agency for its success with this new Campaign.