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Work-related stress

We draw together some key cases in the area of workplace stress.

Definition of stress

There is no accepted legal or medical definition of stress. The widest definition of stress is anything which makes a person tense, angry, frustrated or unhappy. This clearly includes workplace pressures. Stress is said to result from a state of imbalance between the demands experienced by individuals and their capacity to adjust to those demands. Where demands are beyond a person’s capacities, then a state of stress is likely to result.

In 1991 Ichiro Oshima, a Japanese worker, committed suicide at the age of 24. He had not had a day off for 16 months and slept on average between 30 minutes and two hours each night. He set three alarm clocks to wake him for work. A Japanese court ruled that his suicide was the result of overwork. His employers were liable. This case is quoted as one of the most extreme recent examples of the effects of workplace stress.

What causes work-related stress?

Work-related stressors which may trigger stress reactions include:

  • IT issues
  • excessive working hours
  • night shift working
  • boredom
  • organisational changes….

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