Work environment

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Part of Time to Think Differently

Being in work is generally good for our health. However, working in a stressful environment can be detrimental to mental and physical health in both the short- and the long-term. Poor levels of health are twice as high for those reporting high job stress compared to those with none (1).

Rates of work-related stress are higher among women and in people working in large organisations, in managerial and professional occupations, and in public administration/health and social care/education.

Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £14 billion in 2009/10.

Musculoskeletal disorders and stress, depression or anxiety account for around three-quarters of work-related conditions.

Trends in work-related illness

Trends in work-related illness

Source: Health and Safety Executive, Annual Statistics Report, 2010/11.

According to the Health and Safety Executive's Annual Statistics Report, 1.2 million working people were suffering from a work-related illness in 2010/11.

Rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders have reduced significantly over the past 10 years. Rates are higher in people who work in manual and skilled occupations, agriculture/ construction /postal and courier activities.

If current trends continue, work-related illness will decrease further. However, the economic climate may increase work-related stress due to job insecurity (2).

Many companies in England have introduced workplace health programmes to promote active journeys to work, increase fruit availability in offices and provide better in-house catering and gym facilities.

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  1. Siegrest J Benach J, McKnight A, Goldblatt P, Muntaner C (2010). Report. Employment arrangements, work conditions and health inequalities
  2. Katikireddi, SV, Niedzwiedz CL, Popham CF (2012). Report. Trends in population mental health before and after the 2008 recession: a repeat cross-sectional analysis of the 1991–2010 Health Surveys of England, British Medical Journal