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Occupational Health Psychology Chapter 11


It deals with psychological reactions to physical and nonphysical work ... Burnout is a distressed psychological state that and employee might experience ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Occupational Health Psychology Chapter 11

Occupational Health PsychologyChapter 11
  • Asta Rockwood

  • Occupational Health Psychology (OHP), an emerging
    subfield of psychology that is concerned with
    psychological factors that contribute to
    occupational health and well-being.
  • It deals with psychological reactions to physical
    and nonphysical work conditions, as well as
    behavior that has implications for health

Physical conditions affecting health and safety
  • Infectious Disease
  • Employees who must deal with the public may be
    exposed to infectious disease, although most such
    cases result in relatively minor illnesses, such
    as cold and flu. ( hairstylist, police officers,
    sales clerk, health care professionals)
  • Loud Noise
  • Loud noise occurs at many jobs, particularly
    involving heavy equipment or machinery. The
    intensity of noise is measured in decibel units.
    Exposure to extremely loud noise, such as
    explosions, can severely damage a persons sense
    of hearing, sometimes permanently. There is an
    evidence suggestive of a link between noise
    exposure at work and cardiovascular disease

  • Physical Assaults
  • The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that
    workplace violence (including suicide) was the
    third leading cause of workplace fatalities in
  • Despite the media attention paid to shootings by
    postal employees and other extreme cases of such
    violence, such incidents are rather rare.
  • Repetetive Actions
  • Many jobs require repeated physical actions of
    various body parts. Repetetive actions can result
    in repetitive strain injuries, in which the body
    parts involved can become inflated and
    permanently damaged. Repetetive strain injuries
    can be reduced by proper design of tools and
    equipment, and by taking frequent rest breaks.

  • Temperature Extremes
  • People who work outdoors can be subject to
    extremes of hot and cold weather, depending on
    the climates in which they live. Such conditions
    can be threats to health, and employees have been
    known to die of extreme weather conditions.
    Extreme conditions such as intense heat will
    eventually lead to physical exhaustion and heat
    stress that will interfere with job performance.
  • Toxic Substances
  • The exposure of employees to toxic substances
    has been given more and more attention as
    research has shown how such substances affect
    health. The problem with exposure to many
    substances is that adverse health effects, such
    as cancer, can take many years to develop.

Work Schedules
  • Whereas most employed people work standard
    schedules of approximately 8 daylight hours per
    day during weekdays, the use of nonstandard
    schedules involving longer work shift, nights,
    and weekends is spreading. I/O psychologists have
    been interested in three types of schedules
  • - Night shifts,
  • - Long work shifts,
  • - Flextime

  • Night Shifts
  • Many organizations such as hospitals and police
    departments, run 24 hours per day and requires
    the use of two or three shifts of workers to
    cover the entire day.
  • The major health problem with working night
    shifts is that the typical sleep-waking cycle is
    disturbed. Associated with this cycle include
    body temperature changes and changes in hormone
    level in the bloodstream. The most obvious health
    problem in working night shifts is sleep
    disturbance either being unable to fall asleep
    or having a poor quality of sleep.
  • Digestive system problems have been shown to be
    more frequent in night-shift workers.
  • In addition to causing health problems, shift
    work can cause social problems as well. Having to
    work nights and sleep days can isolate a person
    from family and friends.

  • Long Shifts
  • Many organizations have implemented longer
    shifts. For example, truck and bus drivers may
    have routes that can not be completed in 8 hours.
  • One important difficulty with the long day is
    fatigue. A 10 to 12 hours day can be quite tiring
    if the work is mentally or physically demanding.
    On the other hand many employees like the longer
    days because it gives the more usable free time
    per week and reduces commuting costs.
  • Working in excess of 48 hours per week has been
    shown to relate to health, including heart disease

  • Flexible work schedules
  • Fixed daily work schedules are still the norm,
    but increasingly, organizations have been trying
    flexible schedules, known as flextime, that allow
    workers to determine, at least in part, the hours
    of the day that they work.
  • From the organizations perspective, an
    advantage of a flexible work schedule is that it
    allows employees to take care of personal
    business on their own time rather that on work
  • Relations with job performance and satisfaction
    have been les consistent. Job satisfaction was
    slightly higher with flextime, but the magnitude
    of effect was small.
  • Individuals with greater family responsibilities
    will likely benefit from the greater flexibility

Occupational Stress
  • To understand occupational stress, it is
    necessary to understand several concepts that are
    involved in the stress process.
  • A job stressor is a condition or situation at
    work that requires an adaptive response on the
    part of the employee.
  • A job strain is a potential aversive reaction by
    an employee to a stressor, such as anxiety,
    frustration, or physical symptom such as
  • Srains can be categorized as
  • Psychological reactions (Anger, Anxiety,
  • Physical Reactions (Dizziness, Headache, Pounding
  • Behavioral reactions ( Accidents, Smoking)

Job Stressors
  • Many aspects of the work environment can be
    stressful. Some conditions that occur across most
    jobs, such as conflicts with coworkers or heavy
    workloads. Others are specific to a particular to
  • Role Ambiguity and Role Conflict
  • It is the extent to which employee are unclear
    about what their job functions and
    responsibilities are supposed to be
  • Workload
  • Workload concerns the work demands that the job
    places on an employee and it can be two types -
    Quantitative, amount of work employee has and
    Qualitative, is the difficulty of work relative
    to a persons capabilities.
  • Social Stressors
  • It means being able to get along well with
    other people is an important element in well
    being, and failing to get along can be a serious
    source of strain.
  • Control
  • Control is the extent to which employee are able
    to make decisions about their work. Such
    decisions involve all aspects of work.

Occupational Accidents
  • Accidents are the leading cause of death among
    American from 1 to 37 old and the fourth leading
    cause of death for all ages. One of the major
    accomplishments of the 20th century in the United
    States was reducing the workplace accident rate
    by 90 so that today, most accidents occur of
    job. Preventing accidents has been a major
    concern because of both employee and organization
    costs. It has been estimated that U.S workplace
    accidents costs a total of 131.2 billion in 2000.

Major Types of fatal work accidents
  • Burnout is a distressed psychological state that
    and employee might experience after being on the
    job for a period of time. It is like being
    depressed about work and having little energy and
    enthusiasm for the job. There are three
    components of burnout
  • Emotional Exhaustion
  • It is a feeling of tiredness and fatigue at work
  • Depersonalization
  • It is development of a cynical and callous
    feeling towards others
  • Reduced personal accomplishments
  • It is a feeling that the employee is not
    accomplishing anything worthwhile at work

Future Issues and Challenges
  • In the future it seems likely that students will
    choose OHP as an occupation in which they help
    organizations maintain the health and well-being
    of employees through the use of tools from a
    variety of sub areas of psychology, including
    clinical, human factors and I/O
  • The idea of the healthy work organizations
    recognizes that many steps can be taken to
    enhance the health of both employees and
    organizations together.
  • A final challenge for the future is finding ways
    to help people cope with new technologies. As
    computerization continues to spread, new health
    related problems will arise
  • We need to understand better the physical and
    psychological effects of working with
    computerized technologies and how to reduce any
    negative effects that may be found.
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