A good work environment is good for you
According to a new study, a good work environment with job control and job security doesn't only help prevent mental illness, it also promotes positive wellbeing. Researchers from the Toronto-based Institute for Work & Health looked at the impact of psychosocial exposures in the work environment on the mental health of a population-based sample of workers.

Writing in the occupational hygiene journal Annals of Work Exposures and Health, they concluded: "Psychosocial work conditions were associated with both negative and positive measures of mental health. However, mental illness and mental wellbeing may represent complementary, yet distinct, aspects in relation to psychosocial work conditions."

The authors said their results suggest that, while how these objectives may be achieved will differ, providing workers with greater job control, establishing supportive work environments and creating secure employment will prevent mental illness and improve mental wellbeing.  A new TUC pointer to resources for union reps seeking to address mental health issues at work notes: "Trade unions should work with employers to take a preventative approach to mental health by reducing stress. This could include looking at workloads, bullying, harassment and working hours." 

Source: Risks 897.

Conversely, bullying creates cycle of misbehaviour 
Researchers in Italy and the UK have found that workplace bullying not only harms the health of victims, but encourages them to engage in "deviant" behaviour in order to cope at work.

They surveyed 1,019 workers finding that severely bullied workers had the highest level of negative emotions and 'moral disengagement' – rationalising negative actions (like intenetionally working incorrectly, damaging/stealing work property, abusing co-workers and clients) and not taking responsibility for the consequences. They also had trouble managing their problems and emotions and engaged in compensatory coping behaviours, such as drinking more alcohol and taking more risks.

According to the researchers, their study is the first to highlight the "pivotal roles" that negative emotions, emotional dysregulation and compensatory coping behaviour play in determining how workers will function when exposed to high levels of workplace bullying. These findings are in line with previous studies that show bullying leads to deviant behaviour by victims, directing their aggression towards innocent targets or an organisation as a whole for not protecting them from bullying. 
Read more: Marinella Pacielloa and Roberta Fida, et al, Italy. Phenomenological configurations of workplace bullying: A cluster approach [Abstract]. Personality and Individual Differences, May 2019 Source: OHS Alert. Read more on Bullying and what HSRs can do.

Paper calls for urgent action on workplace cancer
Leading experts, including Australian Tim Driscoll, have warned that occupational cancer is the largest single cause of work-related deaths and the numbers affected are increasing. A position paper authored by an international group of work cancer specialists, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, notes "it is clear that occupational cancer now represents the primary cause for work-related deaths globally and in many regions of the world, and the numbers continue to grow. In spite of efforts for prevention and control by several international organisations, institutions and authorities, the level of occupational cancer mortality and morbidity has remained high."

The paper cites recent estimates that indicated occupational cancer accounted for 27 per cent of the 2.4 million deaths due to work-related diseases. "In numerical terms, this estimate means that the number of deaths attributable to occupational cancer annually increased from 666,000 deaths in 2011 to 742,000 deaths in 2015. This increase could be explained by different variables such as the evidence on new carcinogens, the methods of estimation, changes in the industry distribution of workers and the growing and ageing of the population." However they are also concerned that recent (in the past two decades) control measures have not been effective enough. The authors conclude that the need to define a global policy on occupational cancer prevention is an "urgent matter" requiring the "development of a priority action strategy to control and reduce occupational cancer as effectively as possible."
Britain's TUC and the global trade union body ITUC have identified occupational cancer prevention as a priority issue, and have developed prevention guides and workplace campaign materials.

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