Job Stress Increasing to Worldwide Epidemic

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ If it's getting harder to go to work, there may be good reason. The United Nation's International Labor Organization reports job stress is increasing to the point of a worldwide epidemic affecting some of the most ordinary jobs.

Waitresses in Sweden, teachers in Japan, postal workers in America, bus drivers in Europe and assembly line workers everywhere are all showing increasing signs of job stress, the organization said Monday.

Pressure to keep up with machines, no say about the job and low pay for long hours have left millions of workers burned out, accident-prone or sick, the report said. And frequently workers must cope with the growing practice of supervisors electronically monitoring performance by computer.

"We now know that stress is a global phenomenon," said International Labor Organization job stress expert Vittorio G. Di Martino in an interview. "We thought in the past that it hit mostly white collar workers in the industrialized countries. It's time to put that myth to rest."

The report, "Job Stress: The 20th Century Disease," points to growing evidence of problems around the world, including developing countries, where, it stated, companies are doing little to help employees cope with the strain of modern industrialization.

The international organization estimates the cost of job stress in the United States alone at $200 billion annually from compensation claims, reduced productivity, absenteeism, added health insurance costs and direct medical expenses for related diseases such as ulcers, high blood pressure and heart attack.

Stress-related injury claims on the job have climbed from 5 percent of all occupational disease claims in 1980 to 15 percent a decade later, the report said.

Work pressure is so intense in Japan that the Japanese have coined a phrase for death by overwork: Karoshi. A survey cited in the report said 40 percent of all Japanese workers fear they literally will work themselves to death. …