The Bottom Line: Impact of Mental Stress on Workplace Injuries
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
Stress can cause a wide range of negative physical and mental health outcomes, and as a result can can lead to workplace injuries. Director of Ergonomics Research Blake McGowan shares the results of a study that confirmed that increases in mental stress increases spinal forces during manual lifting.
References: WS Marras , KG Davis, CA Heaney, AB Maronitis, WG Allread. (2000). The Influence of Psychosocial Stress, Gender, and Personality on Mechanical Loading of the Lumbar Spine. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2000 Dec 1;25(23):3045-54.
Business leaders are worried about the well-being of their employees during these turbulent times. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the top five sources of mental stress in the United States today are:
- The future of our nation
More than 80 percent of Americans feel that the future of our nation is a primary source of mental stress in their day. Stress can result in a wide range of negative health outcomes, both physical and mental. As safety professionals, we should be interested in better understanding the impact of elevated mental stress on the risk of workplace injuries.
Well, more than two decades ago, WS Marras, KG Davis, WG Allread, and colleagues from the Ohio State University conducted a novel study to better understand the impact of elevated mental stress on the risk of workplace injuries, specifically low back disorders.
So, what did they find? For the first time, it was confirmed that elevated mental stress increases spinal forces during manual lifting. Remember, these forces are the primary physical risk factor associated with low back disorders. Second, the mechanism for increased risk is increased muscle activity and co-contraction, as well as altered trunk movements.
So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that elevated mental stress increases the risk of workplace injuries. So, during these turbulent times, it’s even more important to identify and address ergonomic issues in the workplace so that we don’t have elevated or increased workplace injuries in the future.