Increased levels of stress among workers will inflict lasting damage on companies’ productivity, according to experts at Cardinus Risk Management. But Cardinus believes that the clear links between stress and the physical symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) mean that they can all be managed effectively through ergonomic risk management.
Proposed European health and safety legislation will bring together several ergonomic risk factors in a single directive, including psychosocial factors like stress and work pressure. These factors should be considered in risk assessments, says Cardinus, to help prevent long term effects on staff well-being, productivity and organisations’ reputation.
Jon Abbott, managing director of ergonomics and safety at Cardinus Risk Management, said, “Research into the links between psychosocial factors and work-related injuries has been going on since the 1970s, and the evidence is widely accepted. Back in 2007, psychologist and Cardinus consultant Rick Spencer compiled a 20-page report on this evidence. Spencer’s report confirms that many specialists, experts, and academics have found links between stress and physical injuries. Examples range from overwork, poor working practices, and the build-up of tension, through to the reluctance to report injuries.
“Since then, stress levels among workers have continued to rise. Economic effects, such as lack of job security and increased workload, could see stress at an all time high. That’s why we feel that the EU proposal to consider work-related stress, or ‘wellness,’ as part of an ergonomic risk assessment is a good idea.”
Reduced staffing levels leading to greater pressures on remaining staff and a lack of job security has resulted in one in four workers experiencing more stress now than a year ago. These findings come from a poll conducted by Electoral Form Research.
Ergonomics is a discipline that considers three main factors: tasks, environment, and people. In considering people’s ability to carry out a task safely and efficiently, psychological and social factors need to be examined. Any individual suffering psychological or social pressure will have their ability to perform affected.
Given the clear evidence showing how ergonomic risk management can help improve productivity through reduced absenteeism, fewer work-related injuries and improved staff health, well being, and morale, the benefits of including psychosocial factors in ergonomic assessments are obvious, says Cardinus experts.