Stress Toolbox Talk

This blog can be delivered to your staff as a Toolbox Talk. If you require a specific Toolbox Talk for your workplace, please feel free to get in touch.

Objectives of Talk: To increase awareness of stress in the workplace; to describe the dangers of keeping issues bottled up and continuing work in an unfocused mind-set and lastly increase awareness of stress caused by workplace bullying.


Man holding hands to face in stress at workMany of us are faced with stress every day, but we might not know how to deal with it. It is important to learn how to handle stress because it can affect our performance and relationships in our work and home. At work, stress can lead to distraction and cause an unfortunate accident. At home, stress can put a strain on family relationships.

Stress usually occurs when there are changes in our lives and we feel that we don’t have enough resources to deal with those changes and demands.

Stress can occur not only from negative life experiences, but also from positive ones. People react and deal with stress differently, but common stress symptoms include upset stomach, fatigue, tight neck muscles, irritability and headaches. Some people react to stress by eating or drinking too much, losing sleep or smoking cigarettes. Stress may also make you more susceptible to illnesses, including the common cold, ulcers, and some cancers.

Cases: Construction Site Worker suffers a psychological breakdown due to stress at work: In 1990, a local court upheld a compensation claim by a construction worker who had difficulty keeping up with the pressures of the job site. To avoid falling behind, he tried to take on more tasks and often got parts mixed up. As a result, he was repeatedly yelled at by the foreman. He suffered a psychological breakdown.

Handling Workplace Stress:

  1. Infographic of workplace stressorsTell your supervisor how you feel
  2. Identify ‘stressors’ these could be:
    • Not enough time
    • Unexpected change
    • Family problems
    • Extra responsibility
    • Personality clashes
    • Money difficulties
  1. Reduce job stress by taking care of yourself
  2. Engage in regular exercise. This is known to be a powerful stress reliever
  3. Ensure you seek medical attention if you experience the following conditions:
    • Frequent headaches
    • Inability to sleep
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Upset stomach
    • Short temper

Stress caused from workplace bullying

Man shouting in a womans ear with a megaphoneWorkplace bullying is a risk to health and safety because it may affect the mental and physical health of workers.

Examples of behaviour, whether intentional or unintentional, that may be considered to be workplace bullying if they are repeated, unreasonable and create a risk to health and safety include, but are not limited to:

  • abusive, insulting or offensive language or comments.
  • unjustified criticism or complaints.
  • deliberately excluding someone from workplace activities.
  • withholding information that is vital for effective work performance.
  • setting unreasonable timelines or constantly changing work performance.
  • setting tasks that are unreasonably below or beyond a person’s skill level.
  • denying access to information, supervision, consultation or resources to the detriment of the worker.
  • spreading misinformation or malicious rumours.
  • changing work arrangements, such as rosters and leave, to deliberately inconvenience a particular worker or workers.

Handling Stress Caused by Workplace Bullying

Infogrpahic on how to handle workplace bullyingDO

  • FIRMLY tell the person that his or her behaviour is not acceptable and ask them to stop. You can ask a supervisor or union member to be with you when you approach the person.
  • KEEP a factual journal or diary of daily events. Record:
    • The date, time and what happened in as much detail as possible.
    • The names of witnesses.
    • The outcome of the event.

Remember, it is not just the character of the incidents, but the number, frequency, and especially the pattern that can reveal the bullying or harassment.

  • KEEP copies of any letters, memos, e-mails, faxes, etc., received from the person.
  • REPORT the harassment to the person identified in your workplace policy, your supervisor, or a delegated manager. If your concerns are minimized, proceed to the next level of management.


  • DO NOT RETALIATE. You may end up looking like the perpetrator and will most certainly cause confusion for those responsible for evaluating and responding to the situation.

If you have any questions about the contents of this Toolbox Talk, do not hesitate to contact us – our team would be happy to help you with any queries. Find more Toolbox Talks here.

Need further training? Check out our Stress Awareness online training course here!