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Workplace stress decreases workplace safety

Stress comes at you from every direction. You feel it when your bills come in the mail. You feel it when your spouse needs you to do something and you just don't have the time. You feel it when your kids have band practice, sports practice, drama club, school science fairs and a thousand other activities.

Some put it very bleakly."Life is full of stress," said one doctor. "If you're not stressed, you're dead."

Stress and the workplace

The problem, from a workplace perspective, is that stress can make people less safe than they would be otherwise. It can cause mistakes and lead to accidents and injuries on the job.

People often blame things like a lack of training or uneducated workers. These may play a role in some situations, but one expert fought back against that idea. He said that he studied workers who were very highly educated. Some of them held PhDs. Some were chemists. Others were engineers.

Even so, he saw safety problems. These very intelligent, well-trained workers still made mistakes. He said that it all came back to stress.

Masking the stress

That expert also claimed that many things people do to cope with stress really just mask it. They take prescription and illegal drugs. They drink alcohol. They get addicted to exercise.

Some of these things can help in the short term. Running can burn off nervous energy. Prescription drugs may allow you to cope with anxiety. You should not reject all efforts to deal with your own stress. Talk to your doctor and find out what works for you.

However, be cautious about things that really just mask the stress you feel. Drinking alcohol is often in this category. It may feel like it helps without really helping at all.

Signs of stress

Some workers do not even realize quite how stressed they are. Common signs to watch out for include:

  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Low morale
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Loss of appetite
  • Overeating
  • Workplace violence
  • Arguments

In addition, extra stress on the job may cause mistakes. The stress of a deadline could cause someone to rush and ignore safety regulations, trying to get the job done quickly, even if it's not done the right way. Stress could cause a worker to lose focus and start daydreaming, leading to dangerous mistakes. Stress about pleasing a tough boss could lead employees to take chances they otherwise would not have taken.

Accidents and injuries

When stress levels rise, accidents occur. Employees get hurt. Stress negatively impacts the company and the workforce. It is important for all involved to understand their potential rights to workers' compensation in Wisconsin.

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