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Work Related Stress

Work Related Stress

Work stress can be defined as any physiological or psychological stress caused at the work place or due to the nature of the work.  Stress at work or on-job stress has been one of the most important causes for various ailments including heart attack, depression, and anxiety. Costs associated with leave due to illness, disability compensations, and alternate skilled employee placement are huge and have a negative impact on employee morale. 75 million working days are lost because of on-job-stress hazards. $50 billion are given as compensation. $50 billion is spent on indirect costs like replacement, training, and so on. The staggering number of work-related accidents is alarming.

Long-Term Work-Related Stress

Thus, most of such work related problems in the US have been due to unsafe employee acts and all such unsafe employee acts are due to job stress or stress at the workplace. Employees who have contact with the public, exchange money, deliver passengers, goods, work in health care or criminal settings are at a greater risk of encountering workplace violence, Analyzing the workplace to uncover areas of potential violence, preventing and controlling violence by designing safe workplaces and work practices, providing violence prevention training to the employees are some of the recommendations of OSHA.

More than 65,000 chemicals with which human beings come into constant contact are currently in use in the U.S.A . Many of these chemicals are harmful and pose a serious health hazard. Numerous chemicals have been designated as hazardous to our biological systems and these chemicals pose an occupational health hazard to workers who are constantly in contact with them. These chemicals are often toxic, mutagenic/carcinogenic, causing serious diseases like cancer and disabilities of various kinds. Even children born to women working in nickel refineries have been found to have genital malformations. This offers understanding of the seriousness of occupational hazards due to chemicals and such hazards are potential stressors at work place. More than 1 million U.S workers are at risk of silicosis; most of them are sand blasters who are exposed to crystalline silica. Silicosis leads to death and silicosis victims are of high risk tuberculosispatients. Asbestos workers have the risk of two types of cancer, i.e. cancer of the lung tissue and mesothelioma, cancer of the thin membrane surrounding the lung.

The biggest problem here is that the diseases do not develop immediately but appear after a few years of exposure. Workers, exposed to asphaltused in road paving, riding, and concrete work have the risk of skin cancer. Lead has a toxic effect on the nervous system. High exposure of lead damages kidneys and can cause fetal abortion and reduced sperm count. Health care workers are prone to biological hazards due to needle stick injuries and exposure to Waste Anesthetic Gases (WAGs). Needle stick injuries are wounds caused by needles that accidentally puncture the skin. Needle stick injuries are a hazard for workers who use hypodermic syringes and other needle equipments. These injuries transmit infectious diseases like AIDS, Hepatitis B and C.

Seemingly less serious, but nonetheless uncomfortable and taxing, are office-related stress, such as repetitive stress injuries.  The extensive use of computers and video display terminals in organizations have been the causative agent for complaints like blurred vision, sore eyes, and glare in employees. Muscular aches, pain in the neck are common complaints of VDT operators. Placing the computer screen four to nine inches below eye level, keeping the monitor directly in front of the employee and use of screens are recommended remedies for such video display hazards.

Cumulative trauma disorders or repetitive motion injuries are injuries of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints and spinal discs caused by stress and strains. One of the common conditions is Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, which causes tingling or numbness in the fingers. Without proper treatment employees with this syndrome can permanently lose feeling in their hands. This trauma disorder is common in meat cutters, cooks, textile workers, violinists, flight attendants and those workers whose jobs require repetitive motion of the fingers, hands or arms (such as computer workers). Ergonomic techniques have been recommended and successfully used to improve or correct workplaces that cause cumulative trauma disorders.