Mental Ill Health – The other invisible threat

Richard Meredith

The subfab is a high pressure environment and continues to present significant hazards to the semiconductor workforce. Hazards such as toxic chemicals, radiation and high voltage are commonplace and, in general, well controlled. But are there unidentified hazards which can cause workers to take time off, quit and be less effective at work even to the point they could contribute to workplace accidents? And did COVID-19 bring more into the workplace than just a biological hazard?

In 2020 the recordable ill health cases reported in Edwards comprised 47% musculoskeletal disorders, 35% work related COVID-19, 18% noise related illness and 0% mental ill health. However, the UK Labour Force Survey (last updated November 2020) suggests work related mental ill health cases (including stress, depression & anxiety) should be approximately 50% of all ill health cases reported. Add to that everyone knows someone who is, or has been, off work with stress then the reported numbers at Edwards don’t add up.

Using examples from Edwards’ experience and our journey so far, this abstract will explore the hidden problem of Mental Ill Health, what can be done to unearth it, causes of work-related stress, and, most crucially, what we can do to improve things so employees are happy, present at work (in mind and body) and working at their best.

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