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Rising Stress Levels Linked To Injury Claims And Economic Austerity

Stressed worker
17th December 2013
Stress has long been recognised as a potential killer and one of the underlying causes for a rising number of accidents appearing on injury claims forms.

Not just the day-to-day irritations and frustrations that can build to up to temporary episodes of ‘acute stress’ but the more serious ‘chronic stress’, or an overwhelming sense of being unable to deal with a never-ending and inescapable burden or situation.

It has been estimated that a staggering 90 per cent of visits to GPs, doctor’s surgeries and health clinics are for the diagnoses of symptoms that are at least partially attributable to stress. Since the severe economic downturn of 2008 and the onset of almost continuous recession and austerity, there has been a 50 per cent increase in hospital admissions.

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, there were nearly six and half thousand admissions for stress in the last twelve months, a seven per cent rise on 2011. Over the same period, just in the financial sector alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported some 18,000 employees were suffering from “work related stress and anxiety”.

Often a workplace culture can prevail where any kind of stress, no matter how severe, is simply considered “part of the job” with an added caveat relating to heat and the kitchen! However, it’s no coincidence that accident claims forms will cite stress, anxiety and depression, alongside more serious medical conditions. These can include the onset of ulcers, tooth and gum disease, diabetes, hair loss, heart disease, weight gain and OCD (obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder).

Nevertheless, it can still be a challenge to evaluate the suffering caused and losses as a consequential outcome of experiencing stress. There are broadly defined levels of accident compensation for different severities of conditions arising from stress and psychiatric disorders, which may also have links to other physical symptoms and accident injuries.

With the economic outlook predicted to remain extremely fragile for at least another five to ten years before any hope of a significant recovery, the prevalence of stress in the workplace, at home and while commuting can only be expected to rise to high-risk accident levels.