# Monday, April 16, 2007

Workplace Safety

How Stress At Work And Home Can Increase Accident Risk

Recent studies have shown that the rate of stress experienced by Canadians has greatly increased in the past 10 years. A major cause of this elevated stress stems from working longer hours while trying to also maintain a family. Many Canadians are either currently raising a family, or actively caring for elder family members, or both. With a large percent of families consisting of either single parents or with both parents working full time, demands on time, energy and concentration can be overwhelming.

A 2001 National Work-Life Conflict study showed that over half of the employees surveyed were either caring for children, the elderly, or a disabled person. 70% were active parents, 60% were caring for an elder, 13% were caring for a disabled person, and 13% were caring for both children and elders.  The survey also indicated that these employees are working longer hours with heavier workloads than those surveyed in 1991. Unpaid overtime rose substantially, as well as employees bringing extra work home. With the globalization of some companies, work-related travel has increased, as well as work hours in order to accommodate time zones. As well, one-third of employed Canadians do not take a vacation, or reduce their allotted vacation time by an average of 8 days, thereby not allowing themselves time for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Both of these factors greatly contribute to fatigue and stress, which in turn, elevate the risk of accidents. People who are fatigued and/or mentally focused on other tasks can create an unsafe environment, especially when driving or working in an environment where mental alertness is required. A study conducted by the University of North Carolina concluded that sleep-deprived drivers are comparable to drinking drivers in regards to the probability of being involved in a car accident.

As well as the higher risk of accidents, prolonged high levels of stress can be detrimental to one’s health. People who experience a high stress level for long periods of time are at risk for physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, increased levels of blood sugar and fatty acids, and increased stomach acids. These physical symptoms, if left untreated, can pose serious health risks.

This elevated likelihood of accidents on the road and in the workplace poses a risk for all. This increased risk also poses certain financial concerns. Many people would be unable to meet their financial obligations if they were suddenly injured and unable to work. Disability insurance may be one way to ensure that if you are ever unable to work due to injury or illness you will not be left without a monthly income. This coverage can be up to two-thirds of your current earnings, paid out monthly. Premiums are variable, depending on your occupation; for those in jobs considered dangerous, the premiums may be higher. Disability insurance is available either for short term or long term; discuss these options with an insurance broker to see which option is more suited for your needs.

RSS 2.0