Union: stress drives lab workers to drink

June 4, 2004

Stress at work is driving some laboratory technicians to drink, according to a union survey.

Insufficient time to do jobs properly and the dilemma of juggling quantity and quality were among the main causes of difficulties identified among the staff who make experimental research possible.

Half of the 21 Amicus members at Loughborough University who responded to a questionnaire said that they were not satisfied with their work environment and that they feared that it was harming their health and home life.

A third said their alcohol consumption had risen in the past year as a result. Most said they found it difficult to relax and sometimes took their problems home. All said they endured aches and pains as a result of their work, and many suffered from a lack of sleep.

Mike Robinson, Amicus national officer, said the survey reflected a national problem. He said stress levels would rise if more technician jobs were cut, as his union predicts. "Dealing with complex scientific equipment and procedures requires concentration, and people feel stressed and harassed by the amount of work they are doing. Sleeplessness, overeating and over-drinking are indicators of stress."

The Amicus report is being considered by a Loughborough University working group. Loughborough said it is committed to addressing health and safety risks.

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