Workplace stress is out of control in health care
HEU launches anti-stress initiative to turn around rising on-the-job injuries Stress is the most widespread complaint in health care workplaces today and in response to that, B.C.'s largest health care union is launching a province-wide Anti-Stress Initiative, the centrepiece of which is its Workplace Anti-Stress Guide. Chris Allnutt, secretary-business manager of the 45,000-member Hospital Employees' Union says that it's time employers woke up and dealt with the escalating problem of stress on the job. "Stress is an organizational problem that requires an organizational solution," says Allnutt. "Current research proves that stressed-out workers are sicker, injured more frequently, less productive and subject to high turnover. "That is the growing reality in health care, and with our members. So, we're moving to address workplace stress before it gets any worse." According to the recently-released Workers' Compensation Board Annual Report, injuries in the health care sector rose again in 1999 for the fifth consecutive year. Health care facilities remain the most dangerous workplaces in B.C. for on-the-job injuries. That's bad news for the system because besides the direct financial costs of workplace injuries/sicktime, there are massive indirect costs relating to employee recruitment and replacement, and legal/dispute resolution fees. The WCB estimates these costs to be three times the direct costs. The good news is that workplace stress is preventable and fixable. The Workplace Anti-Stress Guide is a practical, educational resource that offers concrete recommendations for changing work and the workplace. "There is plenty that HEU members can do together with co-workers, employers, the Occupational Health and Safety Agency for Healthcare, government and other organizations to create safer, healthier and more respectful ways of working," says Allnutt. "Healthy jobs and democratic workplaces are good for the future of health care."