The study aim was to examine whether flexible working time was associated with burnout and poor perceived health in relation to the work-related psychological/behavioral factors of self-endangering work behavior (SEWB), workaholism, work engagement, and job stressors. We analyzed data obtained from an Internet survey of 600 full-time Japanese employees. We also proposed a causal model using path analysis to investigate the overall relationships of burnout and perceived health to psychological/behavioral factors. The results indicated that flexible working time was associated with adverse work-related consequences and factors such as increased burnout, working hours, SEWB, workaholism, and job demands, and with positive factors such as improvement of work engagement. The path analysis suggested that burnout was caused by workaholism both directly and via SEWB, and by low job decision latitude, and was reduced by work engagement. Similarly, it was observed that poor health was caused by workaholism via SEWB, and reduced by work engagement. Thus, SEWB is driven by workaholism and plays a key role in the adverse health consequences of flexible working time. For workers to benefit from flexible working time, it is important to improve workaholism, SEWB, and low job decision latitude, and to develop work engagement in the workplace.
This study focused on everyday furniture and computers used in work from home and aimed to investigate how improper postures increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders using different combinations of tables, chairs, and computers. Twenty-one healthy participants were asked to perform a visual display terminal task for 30 minutes in a laboratory modeled on the work from home concept. Seven experimental conditions were set up according to the different combinations of desks, chairs, and computers. Three-dimensional body posture was measured using a magnetic tracking device. The results showed that when using a low table, floor chair, and laptop computer, the body posture above the hip was similar to that when using a dining table, chair, and desktop computer. When using a sofa, and tablet computers, or laptop computer, severe neck flexion, which is stressful to the neck, was observed. Moreover, excessive low back flexion was observed when using a floor cushion and laptop computer. We suggest that computer work while sitting on a sofa or floor cushion without a backrest is harmful to the neck and low back.
Many Australian workers were mandated to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using a qualitative approach, this study aimed to identify optimal work from home management strategies, by analysing the experience of Australian employees working from home (WFH) during this time. A purposive sample, drawn from the Australian Employees Working from Home Study, of managers and non-managers from a range of sectors, was invited to participate in focus groups. Data were analysed using thematic analysis and mapped to the work-systems framework approach to determine strategies implemented to support WFH. Most participants’ experiences were more negative than positive, in part due to extreme lockdowns including curfews, with childcare and school closures compounding their WFH experiences. Effective workplace-initiated strategies to optimise WFH included: management support of flexible work hours; provision of necessary equipment with ICT support; regular online communication; performance management adjustments; and manager training.
The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated broad and extensive changes in the way people live and work. While the general subject of working from home has recently drawn increased attention, few studies have assessed gender differences in vulnerability to the potential mental health effects of working from home. Using data from 1,585 workers who participated in the Health, Ethnicity, and Pandemic (HEAP) study, a national survey conducted in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020, associations of working from home with psychological distress were examined with weighted logistic regression among 1,585 workers and stratified by gender. It was found that workers who worked from home had higher odds of psychological distress (aOR and 95% CI = 2.62 [1.46, 4.70]) compared to workers who did not work from home, adjusting for demographic factors, socioeconomic status, and health behaviors. In gender-stratified analyses, this positive association between working from home and psychological distress was significant in women (aOR and 95% CI = 3.68 [1.68, 8.09]) but not in men. These results have implications for female workers’ mental health in the transition towards working from home in the COVID-19 pandemic era.
Little is known about the relationship between homeworking and mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic and how it might differ by keyworker status. To understand this relationship, we use longitudinal data collected over three time points during the pandemic from three British cohort studies born in 1958 (National Child Development Study), 1970 (British Cohort Study) and 1989–90 (Next Step) as well as from a population-based study stratified by four age groups (Understanding Society). We estimate the association between life satisfaction, anxiety, depression, and psychological distress and homeworking by key worker status using mixed effects models with maximum likelihood estimation to account for repeated measurements across the pandemic, allowing intercepts to vary across individuals after controlling for a set of covariates including pre-pandemic home working propensities and loneliness. Results show that key workers working from home showed the greatest decline in mental health outcomes relative to other groups. Pre-pandemic homeworking did not significantly change the nature of such a relationship and loneliness slightly attenuated some of the effects. Finally, mental health outcomes varied across age-groups and time points. The discussion emphasises the need to pay attention to key workers when assessing the relationship between mental health and homeworking.
This study evaluated the relationship between occupational injury risk and gig work, which included the exchange of labor for money between individuals or companies via digital platforms. As Japan has experienced a severe economic decline during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, an increasing number of individuals have engaged in gig work. While few studies have evaluated occupational risks in gig work, several traffic accidents associated with food delivery gig work have been reported in the mass media. In this study, 18,317 individuals completed an internet survey that collected information pertaining to their involvement in gig work and experience of related occupational injuries; data regarding several confounding factors were also recorded. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that workers involved in gig work had a greater risk of any minor occupational injuries (odds ratio, 3.68; 95% confidence interval, 3.02–4.49) and activity-limiting injuries (odds ratio, 9.11; 95% confidence interval, 7.03–11.8) than those not involved in gig work, after adjusting for age, sex, household income, lifestyle factors, and work-related factors. The results of this study indicate that gig workers are exposed to greater occupational hazards during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional studies are warranted to clarify the causal mechanism for this relationship.
This paper presents the results of a measurement campaign for assessing the release of particles and the potential exposure of workers in metal additive manufacturing. The monitoring deals with three environments, i.e., two academic laboratories and one production site, while printing different metallic alloys for chemical composition and size. The monitored devices implement different metal 3D printing processes, named Selective Laser Melting, Laser Metal Deposition and Hybrid Laser Metal Deposition, providing a wide overview of the current laser-based Additive Manufacturing technologies. Despite showing the generation of metal powders during the printing processes, the usual measurements based on gravimetric analysis did not highlight concentrations higher than the international exposure limits for the selected metals (i.e., chromium, cobalt, iron, nickel, and copper). Additional data, collected through a cascade impactor and particle counter coupled with the achievements from previous measurements reported in literature, indicate that during the printing operations, fine and ultrafine metal particles might be generated. Finally, the authors introduced a preliminary characterisation of the particles released during the different phases of the investigated AM processes (powder charging, printing, part cleaning and support removal), highlighting how the different operations may affect the particle size and concentration.
This study aimed to compare the longitudinal change in depressive symptoms among healthcare professionals in Japan who are willing to receive novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination and those who are unwilling to receive COVID-19 vaccination. The baseline survey was conducted in October 2020 (Survey time 1: T1); respondents in T1 were invited to participate in May 2021 (Survey time 2: T2). Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). Group comparisons of the estimated mean of PHQ-9 score at T1 and T2 were estimated by the analysis of covariance. In T1, 597 participants (response rate: 4.4%) completed all questions. In T2, 211 participants (follow up rate: 35.3%) completed all questions. The group and time interaction effect was significant (F(1, 207)=3.9, p=0.049); depressive symptoms were worse among healthcare professionals who were unwilling to receive vaccination than among those who were willing to receive vaccination. This study showed that depressive symptoms were worse among healthcare professionals who were unwilling to receive COVID-19 vaccination than those who are willing to receive COVID-19 vaccination. This suggests that it is important to take care of healthcare professionals who are unwilling to receive vaccination to prevent mental health deterioration.
How work burden affects physical and mental health has already been studied extensively; however, many issues have remained unexamined. In 2017, we commenced a prospective cohort study of workers at companies in Japan, with a follow-up period of 5–10 years, in order to investigate the current situation of overwork-related health outcomes. From 2017 to 2020, a target population of 150,000 workers across 8 companies was identified. Of these, almost 40,000 workers agreed to participate in the baseline survey. Data on working hours, medical check-up measurements, occupational stress levels, and lifestyle habits were collected. The average age of the participants at baseline was 39.2 ± 11.7 years; 73.1% were men, and 87.7% were regular employees. The most common working hours by self-reported was 41–50 hours per week during normal season, and it increased to more than 50 hours during busy season. Furthermore, more than half of the participants reportedly experienced a form of sleep problem, and the percentage of those who experienced nonrestorative sleep was particularly high.