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The National Occupational Health and Safety Commission in Australia reports that in 1998/9 a total of 3,425 workers compensation claims were submitted as a result of mental stress*. This figure confirms that stress is a growing concern for both employees and employers alike.

Knowing what it is that causes us stress, at work and at home, is very important. More importantly though is understanding how we can learn to tolerate and prevent future stress in an ongoing way.

Research has linked poor Stress Tolerance with behaviours ranging from acting jumpy, agitated, being aggressively competitive through to lethargy and withdrawn. These types of behaviours directly relate to being distracted - particularly on the job, which in turn fatigues the body. No doubt, distraction and fatigue are two of the primary causes and results of stress in the world today. Stress also contributes to many accidents and injuries.

In a recent study trainees undertaking the Course in Advanced Safety and Quality Awareness (AS&QA) were benchmarked across several attitudinal safety scales. Based on the above figures, one of the most important scales measured is that of Stress Tolerance.

The Stress Tolerance scale is a measure of an individual's ongoing ability to cope with, and withstand, stress. It is not a measure of whether an individual is actually experiencing stress at the time of the assessment.

Developing Stress Tolerance
Trainees are taught how their individual Stress Tolerance attitudes can be developed so they can manage their stress on a day-to-day basis, reducing the potential for accidents resulting from stress. This is supported by many years of research both in Australia and the US.

Results (below) from a recent group of 100 AS&QA graduates across engineering, manufacturing and mining organisations were compared at three intervals over a six-month period. Overall there was a 79% improvement in Stress Tolerance attitudes with the average scores being 43, 67 and 77 at one, three and six months respectively.

Trainees Learn to 'Tolerate' Stress
This exercise has highlighted one participating organisation who is currently five months accident free, and another whose employees have openly praised the tools and knowledge they now have to better manage their stress. While these are only some initial results, clearly these results demonstrate from the outset that the personal and business costs associated with stress can be reduced.
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