A new report from the Rutgers School of Public Health suggests that stressful working conditions may contribute to work-related injury (WRI), both within and outside of the workplace. While the number of occupational injuries has declined by more than half between 1990 and 2014, new areas of focus have emerged that employers could leverage to prevent workplace injury. Using data from the National Health Institute Survey (NHIS) Occupational Health Supplement (OHS), Rutgers University researchers have uncovered connections between workplace injuries and the negative psychosocial effects of work environments. Their findings suggest that workers’ health may be improved by reducing psychosocial hazards in the work environment.
[Photo: Dr. Judith Graber]
In this study, researchers from the Rutgers School of Public Health and the Rutgers Environmental and Health Sciences Institute used data from the 2010 NHIS, an ongoing cross-sectional survey conducted annually by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, to assess the relationships between three adverse psychosocial workplace hazards: job insecurity, work-family balance, and workplace harassment. Each of these three psychosocial factors were positively associated with workplace injury, however one factor — workplace harassment — was also strongly associated with injuries outside of the workplace, even after adjusting for socio-demographic and occupational factors. While most employers are mandated to report any workplace injuries requiring medical attention, many injuries go uncounted. As such, one advantage of studying workplace injury using the NHIS OHS is that it WRIs are less likely to be undercounted.
According to the study’s senior author, and Rutgers School of Public Health faculty member, Dr. Judith Graber, “our study findings, along with those of other studies, reinforce the dangers of psychosocial hazards to worker health and safety — importantly, this study adds to the accumulating evidence that reducing workplace harassment can have broad beneficial impacts on improving health and reducing injuries both at and outside of the workplace.”
Although many industry-specific investigations between stress and WRI have been conducted, future studies should further our understanding how these stressors work on the population as a whole. Nevertheless, the association of these three psychosocial hazards — job insecurity, work-family balance, and workplace harassment — with WRI, shows that data from ongoing surveillance of occupational psychosocial risk factors is needed to understand and improve quality of life for those people in our workforce.
“Are Workplace Psychosocial Factors Associated With Work-Related Injury in the US Workforce?: National Health Interview Survey, 2010” was published in the Journal of Environmental Medicine.