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Stay safe while you work

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Maintaining a healthy office environment requires attention to chemical hazards, equipment and work station design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), ...

Maintaining a healthy office environment requires attention to chemical hazards, equipment and work station design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), task design, psychological factors (personal interactions, work pace, job control) and sometimes, chemical or other environmental exposures.


A well-designed office allows each employee to work comfortably without needing to over-reach, sit or stand too long, or use awkward postures (correct ergonomic design). Sometimes, equipment or furniture changes are the best solution to allow employees to work comfortably. On other occasions, the equipment may be satisfactory but the task could be redesigned. For example, studies have shown that those working at computers have less discomfort with short, hourly breaks.


Situations in offices that can lead to injury or illness range from physical hazards (such as cords across walkways, leaving low drawers open, objects falling from overhead) to task-related (speed or repetition, duration, job control, etc.), environmental (chemical or biological sources) or design-related hazards (such as nonadjustable furniture or equipment). Job stress that results when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities or resources of the worker may also result in illness.

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Stay safe while you work Stay safe while you work Presentation Transcript

  • http://www.fitango.com/categories.php?id=635Fitango EducationHealth TopicsStay safe while you work
  • 1OverviewMaintaining a healthy office environment requiresattention to chemical hazards, equipment andwork station design, physical environment(temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation,and space), task design, psychological factors(personal interactions, work pace, job control) andsometimes, chemical or other environmentalexposures.
  • 2OverviewA well-designed office allows each employee towork comfortably without needing to over-reach,sit or stand too long, or use awkward postures(correct ergonomic design). Sometimes,equipment or furniture changes are the bestsolution to allow employees to work comfortably.On other occasions, the equipment may besatisfactory but the task could be redesigned. Forexample, studies have shown that those working atcomputers have less discomfort with short, hourlybreaks.
  • 3OverviewSituations in offices that can lead to injury orillness range from physical hazards (such as cordsacross walkways, leaving low drawers open,objects falling from overhead) to task-related(speed or repetition, duration, job control, etc.),environmental (chemical or biological sources) ordesign-related hazards (such as nonadjustablefurniture or equipment). Job stress that resultswhen the requirements of the job do not matchthe capabilities or resources of the worker mayalso result in illn
  • 4Indoor Environmental Quality"Indoor Environmental Quality," as the nameimplies, simply refers to the quality of the air in anoffice or other building environments. Workers areoften concerned that they have symptoms orhealth conditions from exposures to contaminantsin the buildings where they work. One reason forthis concern is that their symptoms often getbetter when they are not in the building. Whileresearch has shown that some respiratorysymptoms and illnesses can be associated withdamp buildings, it is stil
  • 5Indoor Environmental QualityIndoor environments are highly complex andbuilding occupants may be exposed to a variety ofcontaminants (in the form of gases and particles)from office machines, cleaning products,construction activities, carpets and furnishings,perfumes, cigarette smoke, water-damagedbuilding materials, microbial growth (fungal / moldand bacterial), insects, and outdoorpollutants. Other factors such as indoortemperatures, relative humidity, and ventilationlevels can also affect how individuals respo
  • 6Indoor Environmental QualityUnderstanding the sources of indoorenvironmental contaminants and controlling themcan often help prevent or resolve building-relatedworker symptoms. Practical guidance forimproving and maintaining the indoorenvironment is available.Workers who have persistent or worseningsymptoms should seek medical evaluation toestablish a diagnosis and obtain recommendationsfor treatment of their condition.
  • 7Job StressThe longer he waited, the more David worried. Forweeks he had been plagued by aching muscles,loss of appetite, restless sleep, and a completesense of exhaustion. At first he tried to ignorethese problems, but eventually he became soshort-tempered and irritable that his wife insistedhe get a checkup. Now, sitting in the doctors officeand wondering what the verdict would be, hedidnt even notice when Theresa took the seatbeside him. They had been good friends when sheworked in the front
  • 8Job Stress"You got out just in time," he told her. "Since thereorganization, nobody feels safe. It used to bethat as long as you did your work, you had a job.Thats not for sure anymore. They expect the sameproduction rates even though two guys are nowdoing the work of three. Were so backed up Imworking twelve-hour shifts six days a week. I swearI hear those machines humming in my sleep. Guysare calling in sick just to get a break. Morale is sobad theyre talking about bringing in someconsulta
  • 9Job Stress"Well, I really miss you guys," she said. "Im afraid Ijumped from the frying pan into the fire. In mynew job, the computer routes the calls and theynever stop. I even have to schedule my bathroombreaks. All I hear the whole day are complaintsfrom unhappy customers. I try to be helpful andsympathetic, but I cant promise anything withoutgetting my bosss approval. Most of the time Imcaught between what the customer wants andcompany policy. Im not sure who Im supposed tokeep happy. T
  • 10Job StressWhat Workers Say About Stress on the JobScope of Stress in the American WorkplaceDavidsand Theresas stories are unfortunate but notunusual. Job stress has become a common andcostly problem in the American workplace, leavingfew workers untouched. For example, studiesreport the following:
  • 11Job StressOne-fourth of employees view their jobs as thenumber one stressor in their lives.-NorthwesternNational LifeThree-fourths of employees believe the worker hasmore on-the-job stress than a generation ago.-Princeton Survey Research Associates
  • 12Job StressProblems at work are more strongly associatedwith health complaints than are any other lifestressor-more so than even financial problems orfamily problems.-St. Paul Fire and MarineInnsuance Co.
  • 13Job StressFortunately, research on job stress has greatlyexpanded in recent years. But in spite of thisattention, confusion remains about the causes,effects, and prevention of job stress. This bookletsummarizes what is known about job stress andwhat can be done about it.
  • 14Job StressWhat Is Job Stress?Job stress can be defined as theharmful physical and emotional responses thatoccur when the requirements of the job do notmatch the capabilities, resources, or needs of theworker. Job stress can lead to poor health and eveninjury.
  • 15Job StressThe concept of job stress is often confused withchallenge, but these concepts are not the same.Challenge energizes us psychologically andphysically, and it motivates us to learn new skillsand master our jobs. When a challenge is met, wefeel relaxed and satisfied. Thus, challenge is animportant ingredient for healthy and productivework. The importance of challenge in our worklives is probably what people are referring to whenthey say "a little bit of stress is good for you.
  • 16Job StressBut for David and Theresa, the situation isdifferent-the challenge has turned into jobdemands that cannot be met, relaxation hasturned to exhaustion, and a sense of satisfactionhas turned into feelings of stress. In short, thestage is set for illness, injury, and job failure.
  • 17Job StressWhat are the Causes of Job Stress?Nearlyeveryone agrees that job stress results from theinteraction of the worker and the conditions ofwork. Views differ, however, on the importanceof worker characteristics versusworkingconditions as the primary cause of job stress.These differing viewpoints are important becausethey suggest different ways to prevent stress atwork.
  • 18Job StressAccording to one school of thought, differences inindividual characteristics such as personality andcoping style are most important in predictingwhether certain job conditions will result in stress-in other words, what is stressful for one personmay not be a problem for someone else. Thisviewpoint leads to prevention strategies that focuson workers and ways to help them cope withdemanding job conditions.
  • 19Job StressAlthough the importance of individual differencescannot be ignored, scientific evidence suggeststhat certain working conditions are stressful tomost people. The excessive workload demandsand conflicting expectations described in Davidsand Theresas stories are good examples. Suchevidence argues for a greater emphasis on workingconditions as the key source of job stress, and forjob redesign as a primary prevention strategy.
  • 20Job StressIn 1960, a Michigan court upheld a compensationclaim by an automotive assemblyline worker whohad difficulty keeping up with the pressures of theproduction line. To avoid falling behind, he tried towork on several assemblies at the same time andoften got parts mixed up. As a result, he wassubjected to repeated criticism from the foreman.Eventually he suffered a psychological breakdown.
  • 21Job StressBy 1995, nearly one-half of the States allowedworker compensation claims for emotionaldisorders and disability due to stress on the job[note, however, that courts are reluctant to upholdclaims for what can be considered ordinaryworking conditions or just hard work].-1995 Workers Compensation Yearbook
  • 22Job StressNIOSH Approach to Job StressOn the basis ofexperience and research, NIOSH favors the viewthat working conditions play a primary role incausing job stress. However, the role of individualfactors is not ignored. According to the NIOSHview, exposure to stressful working conditions(called job stressors) can have a direct influence onworker safety and health. But as shown below,individual and other situational factors canintervene to strengthen or weaken this influence.Theresas need to car
  • 23Job StressBalance between work and family or personal lifeA support network of friends and coworkersA relaxed and positive outlookNIOSH Model of Job Stress
  • 24Job StressJob Conditions That May Lead to StressThe Designof Tasks. Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks,long work hours and shiftwork; hectic and routinetasks that have little inherent meaning, do notutilize workers skills, and provide little sense ofcontrol.Example: David works to the point of exhaustion.Theresa is tied to the computer, allowing littleroom for flexibility, self-initiative, or rest.
  • 25Job StressManagement Style. Lack of participation byworkers in decision- making, poor communicationin the organization, lack of family-friendly policies.Example: Theresa needs to get the bosss approvalfor everything, and the company is insensitive toher family needs.
  • 26Job StressInterpersonal Relationships. Poor socialenvironment and lack of support or help fromcoworkers and supervisors.Example: Theresas physical isolation reduces heropportunities to interact with other workers orreceive help from them.Work Roles. Conflicting or uncertain jobexpectations, too much responsibility, too many"hats to wear."
  • 27Job StressExample: Theresa is often caught in a difficultsituation trying to satisfy both the customersneeds and the companys expectations.Career Concerns. Job insecurity and lack ofopportunity for growth, advancement, orpromotion; rapid changes for which workers areunprepared.
  • 28Job StressExample: Since the reorganization at Davids plant,everyone is worried about their future with thecompany and what will happen next.Environmental Conditions. Unpleasant ordangerous physical conditions such as crowding,noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.Example: David is exposed to constant noise atwork.
  • 29Job StressJob Stress and HealthStress sets off an alarm in thebrain, which responds by preparing the body fordefensive action. The nervous system is arousedand hormones are released to sharpen the senses,quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tensethe muscles. This response (sometimes called thefight or flight response) is important because ithelps us defend against threatening situations. Theresponse is preprogrammed biologically. Everyoneresponds in much the same way, regardless ofwhether
  • 30Job StressShort-lived or infrequent episodes of stress poselittle risk. But when stressful situations gounresolved, the body is kept in a constant state ofactivation, which increases the rate of wear andtear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue ordamage results, and the ability of the body torepair and defend itself can become seriouslycompromised. As a result, the risk of injury ordisease escalates.
  • 31Job StressIn the past 20 years, many studies have looked atthe relationship between job stress and a varietyof ailments. Mood and sleep disturbances, upsetstomach and headache, and disturbedrelationships with family and friends are examplesof stress-related problems that are quick todevelop and are commonly seen in these studies.These early signs of job stress are usually easy torecognize. But the effects of job stress on chronicdiseases are more difficult to see because chronicdiseases take a l
  • 32Job StressHealth care expenditures are nearly 50% greaterfor workers who report high levels of stress.-Journal of Occupational and EnvironmentalMedicineEarly Warning Signs of Job StressJob Stress andHealth: What the Research Tells Us
  • 33Job StressCardiovascular DiseaseMany studies suggest thatpsychologically demanding jobs that allowemployees little control over the work processincrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.Musculoskeletal DisordersOn the basis of researchby NIOSH and many other organizations, it iswidely believed that job stress increases the riskfor development of back and upper- extremitymusculoskeletal disorders.
  • 34Job StressPsychological DisordersSeveral studies suggest thatdifferences in rates of mental health problems(such as depression and burnout) for variousoccupations are due partly to differences in jobstress levels. (Economic and lifestyle differencesbetween occupations may also contribute to someof these problems.)
  • 35Job StressWorkplace InjuryAlthough more study is needed,there is a growing concern that stressful workingconditions interfere with safe work practices andset the stage for injuries at work.Suicide, Cancer, Ulcers, and Impaired ImmuneFunctionSome studies suggest a relationshipbetween stressful working conditions and thesehealth problems. However, more research isneeded before firm conclusions can be drawn.
  • 36Job Stress-Encyclopaedia of Occupational Safety and Health
  • 37Job StressStress, Health, and ProductivitySome employersassume that stressful working conditions are anecessary evil-that companies must turn up thepressure on workers and set aside health concernsto remain productive and profitable in todayseconomy. But research findings challenge thisbelief. Studies show that stressful workingconditions are actually associated with increasedabsenteeism, tardiness, and intentions by workersto quit their jobs-all of which have a negative effecton the bottom lin
  • 38Job StressRecent studies of so-called healthy organizationssuggest that policies benefiting worker health alsobenefit the bottom line. A healthy organization isdefined as one that has low rates of illness, injury,and disability in its workforce and is alsocompetitive in the marketplace. NIOSH researchhas identified organizational characteristicsassociated with both healthy, low-stress work andhigh levels of productivity. Examples of thesecharacteristics include the following:
  • 39Job StressRecognition of employees for good workperformanceOpportunities for career developmentAn organizational culture that values the individualworkerManagement actions that are consistent withorganizational values
  • 40Job StressStress Prevention and Job PerformanceSt. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Companyconducted several studies on the effects of stressprevention programs in hospital settings. Programactivities included (1) employee and managementeducation on job stress, (2) changes in hospitalpolicies and procedures to reduce organizationalsources of stress, and (3) establishment ofemployee assistance programs.
  • 41Job StressIn one study, the frequency of medication errorsdeclined by 50% after prevention activities wereimplemented in a 700-bed hospital. In a secondstudy, there was a 70% reduction in malpracticeclaims in 22 hospitals that implemented stressprevention activities. In contrast, there was noreduction in claims in a matched group of 22hospitals that did not implement stress preventionactivities.-Journal of Applied Psychology
  • 42Job StressAccording to data from the Bureau of LaborStatistics, workers who must take time off workbecause of stress, anxiety, or a related disorder willbe off the job for about 20 days.-Bureau of LaborStatisticsWhat Can Be Done About Job Stress?The examplesof Theresa and David illustrate two differentapproaches for dealing with stress at work.
  • 43Job StressStress Management. Theresas company isproviding stress management training and anemployee assistance program (EAP) to improve theability of workers to cope with difficult worksituations. Nearly one-half of large companies inthe United States provide some type of stressmanagement training for their workforces. Stressmanagement programs teach workers about thenature and sources of stress, the effects of stresson health, and personal skills to reduce stress-forexample, time management o
  • 44Job StressThe beneficial effects on stress symptoms areoften short-lived.They often ignore important root causes of stressbecause they focus on the worker and not theenvironment.
  • 45Job StressOrganizational Change. In contrast to stressmanagement training and EAP programs, Davidscompany is trying to reduce job stress by bringingin a consultant to recommend ways to improveworking conditions. This approach is the mostdirect way to reduce stress at work. It involves theidentification of stressful aspects of work (e.g.,excessive workload, conflicting expectations) andthe design of strategies to reduce or eliminate theidentified stressors. The advantage of thisapproach is that
  • 46Job StressAs a general rule, actions to reduce job stressshould give top priority to organizational change toimprove working conditions. But even the mostconscientious efforts to improve workingconditions are unlikely to eliminate stresscompletely for all workers. For this reason, acombination of organizational change and stressmanagement is often the most useful approach forpreventing stress at work.
  • 47Job StressPreventing Stress at Work: A ComprehensiveApproachHow to Change the Organization toPrevent Job StressEnsure that the workload is in line with workerscapabilities and resources.Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, andopportunities for workers to use their skills.
  • 48Job StressClearly define workers roles and responsibilities.Give workers opportunities to participate indecisions and actions affecting their jobs.Improve communications-reduce uncertaintyabout career development and future employmentprospects.
  • 49Job StressProvide opportunities for social interaction amongworkers.Establish work schedules that are compatible withdemands and responsibilities outside the job.-American Psychologist
  • 50Job StressPreventing Job Stress - Getting StartedNostandardized approaches or simple "how to"manuals exist for developing a stress preventionprogram. Program design and appropriatesolutions will be influenced by several factors-thesize and complexity of the organization, availableresources, and especially the unique types ofstress problems faced by the organization. InDavids company, for example, the main problem iswork overload. Theresa, on the other hand, isbothered by difficult interactions
  • 51Job StressAlthough it is not possible to give a universalprescription for preventing stress at work, it ispossible to offer guidelines on the process of stressprevention in organizations. In all situations, theprocess for stress prevention programs involvesthree distinct steps: problem identification,intervention, and evaluation. These steps areoutlined beginning on page 17. For this process tosucceed, organizations need to be adequatelyprepared. At a minimum, preparation for a stressprevention
  • 52Job StressBuilding general awareness about job stress(causes, costs, and control)Securing top management commitment andsupport for the programIncorporating employee input and involvement inall phases of the program
  • 53Job StressEstablishing the technical capacity to conduct theprogram (e.g., specialized training for in-housestaff or use of job stress consultants)
  • 54Job StressBringing workers or workers and managerstogether in a committee or problem-solving groupmay be an especially useful approach fordeveloping a stress prevention program. Researchhas shown these participatory efforts to beeffective in dealing with ergonomic problems inthe workplace, partly because they capitalize onworkers firsthand knowledge of hazardsencountered in their jobs. However, when formingsuch working groups, care must be taken to besure that they are in compliance with curren
  • 55Job Stress*The National Labor Relations Act may limit theform and structure of employee involvement inworker-management teams or groups. Employersshould seek legal assistance if they are unsure oftheir responsibilities or obligations under theNational Labor Relations Act.
  • 56Job StressSteps Toward PreventionLow morale, health andjob complaints, and employee turnover oftenprovide the first signs of job stress. But sometimesthere are no clues, especially if employees arefearful of losing their jobs. Lack of obvious orwidespread signs is not a good reason to dismissconcerns about job stress or minimize theimportance of a prevention program.
  • 57Job StressStep 1 — Identify the Problem. The best method toexplore the scope and source of a suspected stressproblem in an organization depends partly on thesize of the organization and the availableresources. Group discussions among managers,labor representatives, and employees can providerich sources of information. Such discussions maybe all that is needed to track down and remedystress problems in a small company. In a largerorganization, such discussions can be used to helpdesign formal
  • 58Job StressRegardless of the method used to collect data,information should be obtained about employeeperceptions of their job conditions and perceivedlevels ofHold group discussions with employees.Design an employee survey.
  • 59Job StressMeasure employee perceptions of job conditions,stress, health, and satisfaction.Collect objective data.Analyze data to identify problem locations andstressful job conditions.
  • 60Job Stressstress, health, and satisfaction. The list of jobconditions that may lead to stress (page 9) and thewarning signs and effects of stress (page 11)provide good starting points for deciding whatinformation to collect.
  • 61Job StressRegardless of the method used to collect data,information should be obtained about employeeperceptions of their job conditions and perceivedlevels of stress, health, and satisfaction. The list ofjob conditions that may lead to stress (page 9) andthe warning signs and effects of stress (page 11)provide good starting points for deciding whatinformation to collect.
  • 62Job StressObjective measures such as absenteeism, illnessand turnover rates, or performance problems canalso be examined to gauge the presence and scopeof job stress. However, these measures are onlyrough indicators of job stress-at best.
  • 63Job StressData from discussions, surveys, and other sourcesshould be summarized and analyzed to answerquestions about the location of a stress problemand job conditions that may be responsible-forexample, are problems present throughout theorganization or confined to single departments orspecific jobs?
  • 64Job StressSurvey design, data analysis, and other aspects of astress prevention program may require the help ofexperts from a local university or consulting firm.However, overall authority for the preventionprogram should remain in the organization.
  • 65Job StressStep 2 — Design and Implement Interventions.Once the sources of stress at work have beenidentified and the scope of the problem isunderstood, the stage is set for design andimplementation of an intervention strategy.
  • 66Job StressIn small organizations, the informal discussionsthat helped identify stress problems may alsoproduce fruitful ideas for prevention. In largeorganizations, a more formal process may beneeded. Frequently, a team is asked to developrecommendations based on analysis of data fromStep 1 and consultation with outside experts.Target source of stress for change.
  • 67Job StressPropose and prioritize intervention stategies.Communicate planned interventions to employees.Implement Interventions.
  • 68Job StressCertain problems, such as a hostile workenvironment, may be pervasive in the organizationand require company-wide interventions. Otherproblems such as excessive workload may existonly in some departments and thus require morenarrow solutions such as redesign of the way a jobis performed. Still other problems may be specificto certain employees and resistant to any kind oforganizational change, calling instead for stressmanagement or employee assistanceinterventions. Some interventions
  • 69Job StressStep 3 — Evaluate the Interventions. Evaluation isan essential step in the intervention process.Evaluation is necessary to determine whether theintervention is producing desired effects andwhether changes in direction are needed.Time frames for evaluating interventions should beestablished. Interventions
  • 70Job StressConduct both short- and long-term evaluations.Measure employee perceptions of job conditions,stress, health, and satisfaction.Measure employee perceptions of job conditions,stress, health, and satisfaction.Include objective measures.
  • 71Job StressRefine the intervention strategy and return to Step1.
  • 72Job Stressinvolving organizational change should receiveboth short- and long-term scrutiny. Short-termevaluations might be done quarterly to provide anearly indication of program effectiveness orpossible need for redirection. Many interventionsproduce initial effects that do not persist. Long-term evaluations are often conducted annually andare necessary to determine whether interventionsproduce lasting effects.
  • 73Job StressEvaluations should focus on the same types ofinformation collected during the problemidentification phase of the intervention, includinginformation from employees about workingconditions, levels of perceived stress, healthproblems, and satisfaction. Employee perceptionsare usually the most sensitive measure of stressfulworking conditions and often provide the firstindication of intervention effectiveness. Addingobjective measures such as absenteeism andhealth care costs may also be use
  • 74Job StressThe job stress prevention process does not endwith evaluation. Rather, job stress preventionshould be seen as a continuous process that usesevaluation data to refine or redirect theintervention strategy.The following pages provide examples of actionssome organizations have taken to help preventstress in their workplaces.
  • 75Job StressStress Prevention Programs:What SomeOrganizations Have Done
  • 76Job StressExample 1 — A Small Service Organization. Adepartment head in a small public serviceorganization sensed an escalating level of tensionand deteriorating morale among her staff. Jobdissatisfaction and health symptoms such asheadaches also seemed to be on the rise.Suspecting that stress was a developing problem inthe department, she decided to hold a series of all-hands meetings with employees in the differentwork units of the department to explore thisconcern further. These meetings co
  • 77Job StressUsing the information collected in these meetingsand in meetings with middle managers, sheconcluded that a serious problem probably existedand that quick action was needed. Because shewas relatively unfamiliar with the job stress field,she decided to seek help from a faculty member ata local university who taught courses on job stressand organizational behavior.
  • 78Job StressAfter reviewing the information collected at thebrainstorming sessions, they decided it would beuseful for the faculty member to conduct informalclasses to raise awareness about job stress-itscauses, effects, and prevention-for all workers andmanagers in the department. It was also decidedthat a survey would be useful to obtain a morereliable picture of problematic job conditions andstress-related health complaints in thedepartment. The faculty member used informationfrom the meetings
  • 79Job StressAnalysis of the survey data suggested that threetypes of job conditions were linked to stresscomplaints among workers:Unrealistic deadlinesLow levels of support from supervisorsLack of worker involvement in decision-making.
  • 80Job StressHaving pinpointed these problems, thedepartment head developed and prioritized a listof corrective measures for implementation.Examples of these actions included (1) greaterparticipation of employees in work scheduling toreduce unrealistic deadlines and (2) more frequentmeetings between workers and managers to keepsupervisors and workers updated on developingproblems.
  • 81Job StressExample 2 — A Large ManufacturingCompany. Although no widespread signs of stresswere evident at work, the corporate medicaldirector of a large manufacturing company thoughtit would be useful to establish a stress preventionprogram as a proactive measure. As a first step hediscussed this concept with senior managementand with union leaders. Together, they decided toorganize a labor-management team to develop theprogram. The team comprised representativesfrom labor, the medical/employ
  • 82Job StressTo begin the part of the program dealing withmanagement practices and job conditions, theteam worked with the consulting firm to add newquestions about job stress to the companysexisting employee opinion survey. The survey datawere used by the team to identify stressfulworking conditions and to suggest changes at thework group and/or organizational level. Theemployee health and well-being part of theprogram consisted of 12 weekly training sessions.During these sessions, workers and ma
  • 83Job StressThe team followed up with quarterly surveys ofworking conditions and stress symptoms to closelymonitor the effectiveness of this two-partprogram.
  • 84Sleep and WorkWe know that sleep is important. The need forsleep is biologically similar to the need to eat anddrink, and it is critical for maintaining life andhealth and for working safely. Sleeping 7 to 8hours a night is linked with a wide range of betterhealth and safety outcomes. NIOSH has beenactively involved in research to protect workers,workers’ families, employers, and the communityfrom the hazards linked to long work hours andshift work. In honor of National Sleep AwarenessWeek, we
  • 85Sleep and WorkA growing number of American workers are notgetting enough sleep. Research shows an increasefrom 24% in the 1980s to 30% in the 2000s in thepercentage of American civilian workers reporting6 or fewer hours of sleep per day—a levelconsidered by sleep experts to be too short(Luckhaupt, Tak, & Calvert 2009).
  • 86Sleep and WorkWhy are more Americans getting less sleep? Workdemands are one factor. The timing of a shift canstrain a worker’s ability to get enough sleep.Working at night or during irregular hours goesagainst the human body’s biology, which is hard-wired to sleep during the night and be awake andactive during the day. Still, society needs certainworkers around the clock to provide vital servicesin public safety, healthcare, utilities, food services,manufacturing, transportation, and others. T
  • 87Sleep and WorkWhat are the risks of long work hours and shiftwork?Risks for Workers:Sleep deprivationLack of adequate time to recover from workDecline in mental function and physical ability,including emotional fatigue and a decline in thefunction of the body’s immune system
  • 88Sleep and WorkHigher rates of depression, occupational injury,and poor perceived healthHigher prevalence of insomnia among shiftworkers with low social supportIncreased risk of illness and injuryStrain on personal relationships, such as marriageand family life
  • 89Sleep and WorkIncreased risk of long-term health effects, such asheart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, mooddisturbances, and cancerRisks for Employers:Reduced productivityIncrease in errors
  • 90Sleep and WorkAbsenteeism and presenteeism (present at workbut not fully functioning because of healthproblems or personal issues)Increased health care and worker compensationcostsWorkforce attrition due to disability, death, ormoving to jobs with less demanding schedules
  • 91Sleep and WorkRisks to the Community:Potential increase in errorsby workers leading to:Medical errorsVehicle crashesIndustrial disasters
  • 92Sleep and WorkResearch indicates that the effect of long workhours and shift work may be more complex than asimple direct relationship between a certain highnumber of work hours or shift schedule and risks.The effects appear to be influenced by a variety offactors including characteristics of the worker andthe job, worker control, pay, non-workresponsibilities, and other characteristics of thework schedule.
  • 93Sleep and WorkBoth workers and employers share in theresponsibility of reducing risks connected to poorsleep. Therefore, it is important for both workersand managers to make sleep a priority in theirpersonal life and in the assignment of work.What can employers do to address thisissue?Regular Rest: Establish at least 10consecutive hours per day of protected time off-duty in order for workers to obtain 7-8 hours ofsleep.
  • 94Sleep and WorkRest Breaks: Frequent brief rest breaks (e.g., every1-2 hours) during demanding work are moreeffective against fatigue than a few longer breaks.Allow longer breaks for meals.
  • 95Sleep and WorkShift Lengths: Five 8-hour shifts or four 10-hourshifts per week are usually tolerable. Dependingon the workload, twelve-hour days may betolerable with more frequent interspersed restdays. Shorter shifts (e.g., 8 hours), during theevening and night, are better tolerated than longershifts.
  • 96Sleep and WorkWorkload: Examine work demands with respect toshift length. Twelve-hour shifts are more tolerablefor “lighter” tasks (e.g., desk work).Rest Days: Plan one or two full days of rest tofollow five consecutive 8-hour shifts or four 10-hour shifts. Consider two rest days after threeconsecutive 12-hour shifts.
  • 97Sleep and WorkTraining: Provide training to make sure thatworkers are aware of the ups and downs ofshiftwork and that they know what resources areavailable to them to help with any difficulties theyare having with the work schedule.Incident Analysis: Examine near misses andincidents to determine the role, if any, of fatigue asa root cause or contributing cause to the incident.
  • 98Sleep and WorkWhat can workers do to address this issue?Makesure you give yourself enough time to sleep afterworking your shift.Avoid heavy foods and alcohol before sleeping andreduce intake of caffeine and other stimulantsseveral hours beforehand since these can make itdifficult to get quality sleep.
  • 99Sleep and WorkExercise routinely, as keeping physically fit can helpyou manage stress, stay healthy, and improve yoursleep.Choose to sleep someplace dark, comfortable,quiet, and cool so you can fall asleep quickly andstay asleep.Seek assistance from an appropriate healthcareprovider if you are having difficulties sleeping.
  • 100Sleep and WorkWhat does the future hold?NIOSH is working onseveral projects to reduce the risks associated withlong working hours and shiftwork. Our currentresearch includes:Studying new methods to better measure workhoursSurveillance to better understand the extent of theproblem
  • 101Sleep and WorkStudies to estimate risks to workers and employersTraining interventionsStay tuned for another blog tomorrowsummarizing NIOSH research efforts related tosleep and work.—Claire Caruso, PhD, RN, and Roger R. Rosa, PhD