There were almost 600,000 new or long standing cases of stress, anxiety or depression in 2017/18 (Credit: Telegraph) By Josh Wilson, Data Journalist1 November 2018 • 1:42pm
For the first time, work-related stress anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in Great Britain.
In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/18 as a result of the condition, up from 12.5 million last year. This equates to 57.3 per cent of the 26.8 million work days lost to ill health according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
This increase has been partially driven by a rise in the number of new or long-standing cases, with 595,000 workers reporting that they currently suffer from the condition up from 526,000 in 2016/17. Although a new 24-hour mental health hotline was announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond as part of Monday’s Autumn Budget along with funding for a new mental health service, there are growing calls for employers to do more. General secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) Frances O'Grady said: "Work-related stress is a growing epidemic, it's time employers and the Government took it more seriously." "Warm words are not going to fix this problem, managers need to do far more to reduce the causes of stress and support employees struggling to cope. This means tackling issues like excessive workloads and bullying in the office, toxic workplaces are bad for staff and productivity."
Workers in education and social work are the most at risk
According to the data release, workers in the education industry are the most at risk, with 2,100 new and long-standing cases per 100,000 workers between 2015 and 2018. Social workers are the next most at risk with 2,080 cases per 100,000.
Across Britain, Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest self-reported rates, with an average of 1,830 individuals per 100,000 workers reporting the condition between 2015 and 2018.
In total, stress, anxiety and depression now makes up 43.8 per cent of all workplace illness, up considerably from 32 per cent in 2001/02. A spokesperson from HSE commenting on the figures said: "The fact that work-related stress, anxiety and depression is estimated to be responsible for 57 per cent of the working days lost to ill health shows how important it is for employers to take action."
"The important thing is to start the conversation about stress and mental health issues. Talking about the work and what causes pressure to employees can help develop solutions that can prevent people becoming ill or identify those that need help."
Back and Muscle conditions are the second most prevalent workplace illness
Musculoskeletal disorders, which cover back and other muscle injuries, are the second most common work-related illness, with 469,000 workers suffering from new or long-standing musculoskeletal conditions in 2017/18.
This collection of conditions was responsible for 6.6 million lost working days, making up almost a quarter of the total working days lost to illness. According to the NHS more years are lived with musculoskeletal disability than any other long-term condition - they affect one in four of the adult population and account for 30 per cent of GP consultations in England.
Workers in the construction industry, transportation and storage, and agriculture, forestry and fishing, are the most at risk as these industries have the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders per 100,000 workers.
Workplace injuries and illness cost the economy £15bn
The annual cost of work-related injuries and illness in 2016/17 amounted to £15bn, and well over half of this cost is borne by the individuals in question.
HSE describes the total cost figure as including financial costs such as loss of output, and human costs which are the “monetary valuation given to pain, grief, suffering and loss of life”.
Figures from the HSE also reveal that the total amount of fines issued for breaching health and safety regulations already amounts to over £72.6 million this year, which represents a massive 328 per cent increase on the £17 million worth issued in 2013/14, and is largely due to new sentencing guidelines.