Health and work environmentamong women in unskilled occupations
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AbstractOur findings demonstrate that in addition to the “classic” and expected associations between the physical work requirement and health among unskilled women, significant associations existed between health and the psychosocial and organizational aspects of the workplace. Associations between the psychosocial work environment and health are traditionally considered most important among skilled occupations, rather than unskilled occupations. Modern labour society is undergoing rapid changes, both in terms of social organization and individual behaviour. Dissatisfaction with the quality of social contact at work was associated with an increased risk for impaired psychological well-being in women. This finding suggests that workers in unskilled occupations are also dependent on satisfactory collaboration with their managers and colleagues to remain occupationally active and to prevent work-related health complaints. This theses introduce the definition of unhealthy worker effect, “A phenomenon in which workers in jobs with low-entry demands or requirements exhibit high morbidity rates partly because of selection of unhealthy persons into employment.” If assumptions regarding the presence of an unhealthy selection into the cleaning profession are correct, attempts to modify cleaning tasks to better match the capacity of the employees may help them remain in the workforce. To successfully achieve ‘inclusion in work’ goals and to meet Health, Environment and Security (HMS) requirements, it is important that supervisors are well-informed regarding the health of their employees’. Unhealthy employees, as well as employees switching jobs from other unskilled occupations, may require special accommodations to meet their needs within the work environment. These accommodations can vary from ergonomic solutions to the organization of work. The cleaning occupation, however, has made efforts to minimize high turnover and health problems by becoming increasingly professional, as indicated by the adoption of modern work models and a broader scope of job tasks. For example, cleaning jobs increasingly require greater full-time and daytime work, offering less flexible working time. Modern cleaning companies are interested in employing younger individuals with greater resources, better vocational education, and good language skills. From the perspective of the cleaning agencies, higher job-entry requirements lead to a better reputation, thereby attracting more educated workers, which is considered a desirable outcome by the profession. In other words, these developments contribute to the prestige and renowned associated with cleaning, thereby reducing the trend that workers with fewer skills apply for jobs as cleaners. For the “marginal workforce” and society as a whole, however, these developments are problematic given the reduction in job opportunities, which are flexible and have a lower threshold for job entry. Workplaces, which were formerly open to less educated individuals with fewer resources, may disappear. For some persons, such workplaces may represent the primary, or in some cases, the only opportunity to join the workforce. This trend is evidenced by the increasing theoretical education requirements for employment, even in unskilled occupations. There is a clear contradiction between the National Inclusion to Work Program (IA), which aims to include and retain more people in the workforce over a longer period, and the increasing trend to raise requirements for entrance into the workforce, even in jobs considered “unskilled”.
List of papers
I.Work related risk factors for musculoskeletal complaints in the spinning industry in Lithuania. Migle Gamperiene, Hein Stigum. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 1999, 56:6, p 411-416. Abstract.
II.Duration of employment is not a predictor of disability of cleaners: a longitudinal study.Migle Gamperiene, Jan F. Nygård, Søren Brage, Tor Bjerkedal, Dag Bruusgaard. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2003; 31:63-68. Abstract.
III.The impact of psychosocial and organizational working conditions on the mental health of female cleaning personnel in Norway. Migle Gamperiene, Jan F Nygård, Inger Sandanger, Morten Wærsted, Dag Bruusgaard.Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology 2006, 1:24Medicine and Toxicology 2006, 1:24. Abstract.
IV.Self-reported work ability of Norwegian women in relation to physical and mental health, and the work environment. Migle Gamperiene, Jan F Nygård, Inger Sandanger, Bjørn Lau, Dag Bruusgaard. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Submitted August 2007