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Human Stress Factors

This is the second section of the article by Leslie Henley in his investigation into the Links between Human Stress Factors and MSD’s. You’ll find the first section at Human Stress and MSDS

Human Stress Factors

There are a significant number of factors that may impact on an individual’s perception of threats. These are termed stress factors. Again, each individual will experience, and respond to, these stress factors in different ways. Stress factors include:

  • Task Related Stress Factors (directly connected to work performance)Physical Task Demands: include various physical characteristic requirements such as strength, flexibility, agility, height, etc. Specific details may include weights to be moved or lifted, heights and distances that weights need to be moved through, repetitive actions required, awkward or static postures that need to be maintained, types of hand grips, contact with mechanical conditions such as vibration and temperature, and so on.

    Perceptual, Cognitive and Psychomotor Task Demands: include factors such as concentration for close inspection, precise fine motor movements, speed and accuracy, task cycle time, work rate, etc.

    Overall Job Demands: include factors such as duration of working hours, quantity of work to be performed within given timeframes, access to rest or toilet breaks, task rotations, shift patterns, etc.

    Physical Environment Hazards: include factors such as constrained or confined spaces, noise, whole body vibration, working at heights, temperatures, lighting, floor surfaces, etc.

  • Work Related Stress Factors (connected to the workplace environment)Psychosocial Environment: related to the level of:
    Control over work tasks; eg: the difference between work rates controlled by conveyor lines compared to a tradesman having some autonomy over work rate.
    Social support; relates to the degree of ‘membership’ in work teams and social groupings in the workplace.
    Instrumental support; relates to the degree and nature of supervision, access to break times and toilet breaks.

    Employee Characteristics: relates to the individual states of stress, fatigue, and/or overall wellbeing of an individual whilst in the work environment.

  • Social Stress Factors (connected with general life experiences and conditions)Relationships: states of marital, parental, sibling relationships

    Bereavement: loss of loved ones and associated perceptions of death and ‘afterlife’.

    Finances: related to the degree of financial stability and security

    Illness & Disease: related to both short and long term health issues, recovery rates and management processes. Includes ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, asthma, etc.

    Leisure and Lifestyle: related to social relationships and leisure activities. Includes factors such as use or abuse of alcohol and other drugs.

    Aging and Physical Changes: related to how individuals deal with the physical and emotional changes associated with the aging process. These include such factors as reducing flexibility/agility and mobility, hearing loss, changes in visual acuity, etc.

Stay tuned for the next part of Les’ research.

About the Author

Safety Concepts is an online resource providing up to date insights and covering issues in the field of Workplace Safety.

Comments (2)

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  1. Cecilia Murray says:

    What are MSD’s, please?

  2. admin says:

    Hi Cecilia,

    Thanks for the question.

    I know the acronym MSDs can be a little confusing considering that often when we’re on the subject of safety, MSDs usually refer to Material Safety Data Sheets.

    MSDs, though with regards to the articles by Les Henley are Musculoskeletal Disorders – and in some countries, the most common occupational illness.

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