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Guide Highlights Impact of Workplace Stress

Guide Highlights Impact of Workplace Stress

The Council of Trade Unions says the publication of new OSH guidelines for managing stress and fatigue in the workplace recognise the potentially devastating consequences of these issues for workers.

The Labour Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Service released the guidelines today.

Greg Lloyd, the CTU health and safety advisor, says the guidelines define stress and what causes it, and give information on how to deal with it and create a healthy workplace.

Employers have had a legal obligation since 1993 to do all they can to avoid workplace stress causing physical or mental harm to a worker, he said. “But the recent amendments to the health and safety law bring these responsibilities into sharper focus.

“The responsibility is on employers to recognise that there is a problem,” said Greg Lloyd. “But workers also have a responsibility to tell their employer if they are suffering from stress which may cause illness or injury.

“For that to happen, there needs to be good communication between workers, union, and employers on all health and safety matters, including stress and fatigue.”

In a case last month, the Northland coroner Peter Mahood found the Occupational Safety and Health Service was implicated in the stress-related suicide of one of its own senior inspectors, Ronald Ward.

Peter Mahood found that while there had been a lot of personal concern for Mr Ward, the service had failed to deal adequately with his situation.

Greg Lloyd said the case was a warning for others. “The case shows this can happen to any employer or in any workplace, and that stress needs to be taken seriously and systems put in place to deal with it.”

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