2016-11-01 12:00 - Messages

Addressing Occupational Violence

An overview of conceptual and policy considerations viewed through a gender lens
This report reviews the international literature and a selection of regulatory instruments with respect to occupational violence - work-related violence involving incidents in which a person is physically, psychologically or sexually assaulted, threatened, harassed, bullied or mobbed in circumstances relating to their work. This definition covers a broad range of actions and behaviours that can create a risk to the health and safety of employees. This report provides an overview of policy strategies addressing the prevention of occupational violence. It also examines the various, (sometimes competing) conceptual frameworks underpinning policy responses to violence, and describes different models of regulatory and policy interventions. It also examines compensation for disability attributable to occupational violence, and other remedies and sanctions. The report identifies the gender dimensions of occupational violence and the need for gender-responsive policy in this area.

Source: http://www.ilo.org/gender/Informationresources/Publications/WCMS_535656/

Bullying and Harassment in Australian Workplaces

Results from the Australian Workplace Barometer 2014/15
Why has this research been done?
•To better understand the prevalence of workplace bullying and harassment in Australian workplaces and to identify workplace risk factors associated with the occurrence of bullying and harassment.
What did we find?
•Bullying was measured using both a widely accepted international definition and the Australian definition used by Safe Work Australia. The prevalence rates using the international and the Australian definitions were similar: 9.7 per cent and 9.4 per cent of Australian workers respectively reported they had been bullied in the last six months.
•Of the seven types of harassment measured, the most common form of harassment experienced by Australian workers was reported as being sworn at or yelled at (37 per cent), followed by being humiliated in front of others (24 per cent).

Source: http://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/sites/SWA/about/Publications/Documents/985/bullying-and-harassment-in-australian-workplaces-australian-workplace-barometer-results.pdf

Regulating the intangible - Searching for safety culture in the Norwegian petroleum industry

The way organizational culture can influence safety has been a topic in safety research and accident investigations for decades. This has led to an increasing interest from regulators to include the concept of safety culture into the sphere of risk regulation. In the Norwegian petroleum regulations, a requirement for a “sound health, safety and environment culture” was introduced in 2002. The article presents a qualitative study of the perceived effects of this requirement on safety, seen from the perspective of both the regulator and the regulated companies.
The study shows that introducing the concept of safety culture into regulation can have positive effects both within the regulated companies and within the regulator's own organization. While certainly not being suited for a “command and control” approach to regulation, requirements to a “sound HSE culture” serves as an important policy statement in Norwegian regulations. It influences the whole institutional field to explore new approaches to safety. Introducing the concept of safety (or HSE) culture into the regulatory vocabulary has served as a sensitizing concept for both the regulator and the industry, thereby increasing both parties' ability to address informal and systemic aspects of safety.

Source: Antonsen, S., Nilsen, M., & Almklov, P. G. (2017). Safety Science, 92, 232-240.

Mind the gap: a qualitative approach to assessing why different sub-cultures within high-risk industries interpret safety rule gaps in different ways

Measuring the distance between the performance of safety rules as imagined and safety rules as enacted in high-risk environments has been an area of great interest and debate in recent years. Yet a significant gap in our understanding remains. Some authors have even advised us to “stop bitching about the gap” and start closing it (Hale and Borys, 2013a, p. 218). In this paper, we follow this call by investigating the relationship between safety rules as imagined, and enacted, in a rule-driven organization working in the oil and gas industry in Norway. Specifically, we investigate how three different sub-cultures within the organization: the management culture, the engineering culture, and the operations culture - make sense of safety rules at their respective levels, and why their interpretations of the gaps created by these same rules, are different. These differences lead to different levels of rule enactment. Using a case study approach, we found that how employees' were engaged in the rule creation process led to different levels of psychological ownership, and this, in turn, led to different levels of rule enactment. We also found that these distinct occupational sub-cultures use different sensemaking approaches in understanding safety rules, and that the resultant differences in understanding directly affects both the understanding of the gap that exists between rules as imagined and rules as enacted, leading to different levels of rule compliance.

Source: Lofquist, E. A., Dyson, P. K., & Trønnes, S. N. (2017). Safety Science, 92, 241-256.

Sixth European Working Conditions Survey

The sixth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) builds on the lessons learned from the previous five surveys to paint a wide-ranging picture of Europe at work across countries, occupations, sectors and age groups. EU employment policy priorities aim to boost employment levels, prolong working life, increase the participation of women, develop productivity and innovation and adapt to the digital challenge. The success of these policies depends not just on changes in the external labour market but also on developing good working conditions and job quality. The findings from the EWCS draw attention to the range and scope of actions that policy actors could develop to address the challenges facing Europe today. The analysis explores the findings using seven indices of job quality – physical environment, work intensity, working time quality, social environment, skills and discretion, prospects and earnings – and categorises workers into five typical job quality profiles. Based on face-to-face interviews with 43,850 workers in 35 European countries, the sixth EWCS attempts to capture the multi-faceted dimensions of work in Europe today.

Source: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/report/2016/working-conditions/sixth-european-working-conditions-survey-overview-report

Occupational risk-prevention diagnosis: A study of construction SMEs in Spain

Occupational risk-prevention implementation and its integration in the management systems of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are studied in the Spanish Construction Sector, through a prospective analysis of data collected from a sample of 106 firms (SMEs) in the Autonomous Community of Castile-La Mancha (Spain). The selected sample is well suited to the economic reality of that Autonomous Community, considering the size of the population and the chosen confidence intervals and probabilities. The following data-collection techniques were used: surveys, open questions, closed questions, and dichotomous questions. Qualitative Focus-Group techniques were chosen, to contrast the information and to validate its reliability, in view of the training criteria and the hierarchical position of the interviewees working for firms with experience in the Construction Sector. Participants included risk-prevention experts from the public administrations. The results point to difficulties with the integration of Occupational Risk Prevention (ORP) in the Management Systems of SMEs in the Spanish construction sector, outside the corporate structure of the firm.

Source: Cañamares, M. S., Escribano, B. V., García, M. G., Barriuso, A. R., & Sáiz, A. R. (2017). Safety science, 92, 104-115.

Leading or lagging? Temporal analysis of safety indicators on a large infrastructure construction project

Safety performance data collected over a five year period, at a large Australian infrastructure project was analysed. The analysis examined the temporal relationships between the safety performance indicators measured at the project, including traditional lagging indicators, as well as expected leading indicators. The purpose of the research was to uncover time dependent relationships and explore causal relationships between indicators. The analysis revealed complex interactions between safety indicators over time. Notably, the expected leading indicators behaved as both leading and lagging indicators in relation to the project total recordable injury frequency rate. This finding suggested a cyclical relationship between management actions relating to safety and the rate of safety incidents. This cyclical relationship is unlikely to produce long term sustained improvement in safety performance. The expected leading indicators of safety were also inter-related with one another in complex ways. The results indicate that assumptions underpinning the use of leading indicators should be reconsidered. In particular, the findings challenge the assumption that leading indicators measured at one point in time can predict safety outcomes at a subsequent point in time. The collection and use of different types of safety indicator data should be reconsidered.

Source: Lingard, H., Hallowell, M., Salas, R., & Pirzadeh, P. (2017). Safety science, 91, 206-220.

Exploring OHS trainers’ role in the transfer of training

Safety training (ST) is essential for workplace safety and to be effective requires that the learned knowledge and skills are transferred to the job. Research on transfer mechanisms and its predictors has neglected trainers' influence, despite their privileged position on decisions related with training. This study is aimed at identifying: (1) trainers' perspectives on best practices for enhancing ST success; (2) unexplored transfer factors based on reported best practices; and (3) the trainers' sense of self-efficacy and personal responsibility regarding ST results. Twenty semi-structured interviews were conducted with experienced and first-line safety trainers, all OHS professionals. Content analysis revealed that trainers attribute training success to factors related to trainees' individual characteristics, workplace environment and mainly to training design and delivery. OHS professionals' presence in the workplace emerged as a critical transference trigger suggesting future research to explore under what conditions that effect occurs. Participants reported feeling responsible for training results but revealed a low sense of control. These results confirm that trainers decide on training design and deliver but their role should be expanded so to support training application in the work context. For that purpose, companies must empower safety trainers for enhancing their control over the transfer process.

Source: Freitas, A. C., & Silva, S. A. (2017). Safety science, 91, 310-319.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Release Program for University Employees

A Pilot, Waitlist-Controlled Trial and Implementation Replication
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a 6-week mindfulness-based stress release program (SRP) on stress and work engagement in fulltime university employees.
Methods: Perceived stress, workplace wellbeing, and engagement were measured at baseline and within 1 week of the SRP completion, and contemporaneously 6 weeks apart for a waitlist control group. A second program was implemented to examine reproducibility of results.
Results: Fifty participants undertook the SRPs, and 29 participants were waitlisted. A significant improvement in distress, workplace wellbeing, and vigor was observed within the first SRP group, when compared with the control group. The improvement in distress and wellbeing was reproduced in the second SRP group.
Conclusions: This study adds to the growing body of research that mindfulness may be an effective method for reducing workplace stress, improving employee wellbeing, and enhancing work engagement.

Source: Koncz, R., Wolfenden, F., Hassed, C., Chambers, R., Cohen, J., & Glozier, N. (2016). Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 58(10), 1021-1027.

Short-term effects of night shift work on breast cancer risk

A cohort study of payroll data
The epidemiological evidence of an association between night shifts and breast cancer is limited. Studies have relied on self-reported information on working time, which may have inflated findings by recall bias. This study included individual, objective, and detailed information on working time from pay roll registers. There is no increased risk of breast cancer following recent night shift work.

Source: Vistisen HT, Garde AH, Frydenberg M, Christiansen P, Hansen ÅM, Hansen J, Bonde JPE, Kolstad HA. (2016). Scand J Work Environ Health.

Zero Accident Vision based strategies in organisations: Innovative perspectives

The Zero Accident Vision (ZAV) is a promising approach developed in industry, but not so much addressed by the safety science research community. In a discussion paper in Safety Science (2013) a call was made for more research in this area. Three years later is a good time to take status of developments in this field. A first set of empirical studies has been published, several authors see new perspectives with the vision, while misunderstandings still flourish with a focus on ‘zero incidents' as a ‘goal', rather than the ‘vision' that all occupational incidents are preventable. This has thus given rise to fundamental criticism of ZAV with some authors seeing ZAV as an unjustified and misleading pretention that is counter-productive for safety. In this paper an overview is given of the knowledge developments in this respect, as well as on the discourse on the controversial aspect of ZAV.
There appears to be consensus that merely promoting traditional safety management or accident prevention will not lead to significant new improvements in safety. Six innovative perspectives associated with ZAV are identified and presented in this paper, which together offer a range of possibilities for both industry and for the safety science community to develop new practices and knowledge that may provide significant improvements in safety. The call for more empirical research into this challenging area is relevant for the advocates of ZAV as well as for its critics.

Source: Zwetsloot, G. I., Kines, P., Wybo, J. L., Ruotsala, R., Drupsteen, L., & Bezemer, R. A. (2017). Safety science, 91, 260-268.

Labour casualization and the psychosocial health of workers in Australia

This article presents the results of a qualitative study of 72 workers in regional Victoria, Australia. Against the background of the growing casualization of the workforce it demonstrates the impact on the health and well-being of these workers, focusing on the intersection between psychosocial working conditions and health. In particular it focuses on the detrimental impact on workers' sense of self-efficacy and self-esteem. It emphasizes how the job insecurity characteristic of non-standard work extends beyond the fear of job loss to involve uncertainty over the scheduling of work, with debilitating consequences for workers' autonomy, self-efficacy and control over their lives. Additionally, it is argued that the exclusion of these workers from paid leave and other entitlements in the workplace confers a lower social status on these workers that is corrosive of their self-esteem. It is these key socio-psychological mechanisms that provide the link between insecure work and workers' health.

Source: McGann, M., White, K., & Moss, J. (2016). Employment & Society.

How institutions matter for job characteristics, quality and experiences

A comparison of home care work for older people in Australia and Sweden
This article seeks to understand a puzzling finding: that workers in publicly funded home care for older people in Australia, compared to those in Sweden, feel that they are better able to meet their clients' needs, that their workplaces are less pressed, and that their work is less burdensome and more compatible with their family and social commitments. This finding seems to challenge expectations fostered by comparative sociological research that job quality and care services are inferior in Australia compared to Sweden. Informed by comparative institutionalist theory and care research, the structures and dynamics of the care systems in the two countries are analysed, along with findings from the NORDCARE survey of home care workers conducted in Sweden in 2005 (n=166) and Australia in 2010 (n=318). Differences in the work and working conditions in the two countries are explained by the dynamic interaction of national institutional and highly gendered sector-level effects.

Source: Meagher, G., Szebehely, M., & Mears, J. (2016). Work, Employment & Society.

Globalization, Work, and Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease (CVD), a global epidemic, is responsible for about 30% of all deaths worldwide. While mortality rates from CVD have been mostly declining in the advanced industrialized nations, CVD risk factors, including hypertension, obesity, and diabetes, have been on the increase everywhere. Researchers investigating the social causes of CVD have produced a robust body of evidence documenting the relationships between the work environment and CVD, including through the mechanisms of psychosocial work stressors. We review the empirical evidence linking work, psychosocial stressors, and CVD. These work stressors can produce chronic biologic arousal and promote unhealthy behaviors and thus, increased CVD risk. We offer a theoretical model that illustrates how economic globalization influences the labor market and work organization in high-income countries, which, in turn, exacerbates job characteristics, such as demands, low job control, effort-reward imbalance, job insecurity, and long work hours. There is also a growing interest in “upstream” factors among work stress researchers, including precarious employment, downsizing/restructuring, privatization, and lean production. We conclude with suggestions for future epidemiologic research on the role of work in the development of CVD, as well as policy recommendations for prevention of work-related CVD.

Source: Schnall, P. L., Dobson, M., & Landsbergis, P. (2016). International Journal of Health Services.

Interventions to prevent and reduce physician burnout

A systematic review and meta-analysis
Physician burnout has reached epidemic levels, as documented in national studies of both physicians in training and practising physicians. The consequences are negative effects on patient care, professionalism, physicians' own care and safety, and the viability of health-care systems. A more complete understanding than at present of the quality and outcomes of the literature on approaches to prevent and reduce burnout is necessary.

Source: West, C. P., Dyrbye, L. N., Erwin, P. J., & Shanafelt, T. D. (2016). The Lancet.

Des conditions de travail en EHPAD vécues comme difficiles par des personnels très engagés

Les conditions de travail des soignants d'établissements d'hébergement pour personnes âgées dépendantes changent sous l'effet de l'évolution récente des profils de résidents : amplification des tâches sanitaires au détriment du relationnel, renforcement des exigences de qualification des professionnels et du contrôle qualité, exigence accrue des résidents.Aux dires des personnels soignants, travailler en EHPAD est difficile, aussi bien physiquement que psychiquement, et la charge mentale y est importante. L'organisation du travail est souvent en tension et peut être source de dégradations des conditions de travail. Les professionnels restent toutefois le plus souvent fortement engagés dans leur travail, tant professionnellement que personnellement. Des mécanismes de solidarité sont notamment mis en oeuvre pour pallier certaines difficultés, mais restent fragiles.

Source: http://drees.social-sante.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/dd05.pdf

The future of work: crowdsourcing

The development of technology has expanded the possibility for ‘relocating' work out of a traditional workplaces and entirely new forms of work organisation have emerged. Crowdsourcing - paid work organised through online labour exchanges - is one of these new work patterns. This article describes the main risks that can result from the vast range of tasks carried out by crowd workers. The rapid growth of this area of work has also created considerable challenges, and some examples of unresolved issues are discussed.

Source: https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/future-work-crowdsourcing/view

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