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RR488 - Investigation of the links between psychological ill-health, stress and safety

The impact of psychological ill health and stress at work is gaining increasing attention from both researchers and organisations. The last few years have seen a sharp increase in interest in how this impacts on the individual’s wellbeing and performance in a work context. At the same time, the UK has also seen an increase in attention to the impact of human factors on accidents and safety related behaviours, as a growing proportion of accidents and incidents are caused by human behaviour, rather than technology and equipment.

Investigating the causes of accidents, incidents and unsafe behaviour, including understanding the possible influence of psychological ill health, has become a priority. This understanding should address both whether experiencing psychological ill-health or stress at work can impact on individuals’ safety behaviour and also how the presence of potential sources of psychological illhealth or stress at work may affect safety performance.

This report presents evidence to contribute to this understanding; it will focus on the relationship between psychological ill-health, stress and safety in a work context.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2010-03-19