A new EU awareness raising campaign was launched recently by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). The new two year campaign focuses on managing psychosocial risks. Running under the theme of ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the benefits to individual workers and the broader organisation of effectively managing psychosocial risks.

Research undertaken by EU-OSHA last year indicated that job re-organisation or insecurity was the leading perceived cause of workplace stress for Irish workers (76%) while workload was seen as the next most common cause (73%). The majority of workers interviewed (55%) believed that cases of workplace stress were rare or fairly rare in their particular workplace with 13% believing they were very common. 66% of workers felt that control of workplace stress was handled either fairly or very well in their own workplace.

Patricia Murray, Occupational Psychologist with the Health and Safety Authority said, “In today’s modern workplace, a certain level of pressure is completely normal and to be expected. However, when this pressure develops into a persistently stressful working environment, with little or no supports in place, people can find it difficult to cope and some may develop a range of health issues as a result. And, as with most potential health issues, it is much better to take a preventative approach.”

“It’s concerning that the EU research indicates that employees in over 1 in 10 Irish workplaces perceive cases of stress to be very common. But we should interpret this cautiously as all our understanding of the word ‘stress’ varies, just as our tolerance for pressure and challenge does. That two thirds of workers believed that the control of stress in their workplace is handled very or fairly well is very positive. Intervention at the appropriate stage can and usually will prevent it from becoming a much more serious health issue.”

“It should also be recognised that difficulties or problems in the individual’s private life can manifest themselves in the workplace. Workplace stress can be as a result of those private issues and not because of any work-related issue. The goal of any employer should be to ensure that workplace activities are not unduly adding to the issues facing any employee or group of employees. It makes clear business sense.”

The ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’ campaign will run until the end of 2015. Visit the campaign website at for guidelines and advice on how to manage workplace stress and psychosocial risks in the workplace. ‘Work Related Stress – A Guide for Employers’ is available to download free of charge from the HSA’s website.