Operational stress

Whilst stress can occur as a result of experiencing an excessive amount of pressure whatever the cause, operational stress refers to stress symptoms caused by traumatic situations which occur as part of and individuals work environment.

We would typically think of those at risk of ‘operational stress’ as working in harsh environments or putting themselves in harm’s way e.g. members of the Armed Forces, emergency services, medical personnel, war reporters and photographers, security contractors, oil and gas workers, shipping crews.

Although these are not the only groups at risk of operational stress, those working in safety critical who are suffering the effects of work-related operational stress may be a danger to themselves and those around them because of the cognitive impairment associated with operational stress.

Symptoms of stress, operational or otherwise, might be physical e.g. fatigue, nausea, chest pains, difficulty breathing; mental e.g. confusion, difficulty concentrating, nightmares; emotional e.g. anxiety, guilt, panic, depression, anger; or behavioural e.g. withdrawal, emotional outbursts, anger, increased alcohol intake.

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Term last updated: Thursday 06th Dec 2012

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