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."
- Jonathan K Fan, Cameron Mustard and Peter M Smith. Psychosocial work conditions and mental health: examining differences across mental illness and well-being outcomes, [Full article] Annals of Work Exposures and Health, published online 13 May 2019.
- Five ways to improve mental health and wellbeing in your workplace, and the TUC resources that will help you, TUC blog, 13 May 2019.
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."
- S Iavicoli, TR Driscoll, M Hogan and others. Position statement: New avenues for prevention of occupational cancer: a global policy perspective, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, volume 76, pages 360-362, 2019.
- The ITUC workcancerhazards blog. Source: Risks 897.