Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Interaction between Objective and Subjective Occupational Conditions Affecting Physical Health of Women Workers

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Interaction between Objective and Subjective Occupational Conditions Affecting Physical Health of Women Workers

Article excerpt

Abstract

This is an investigation on the interaction between the subjective and objective occupational conditions in affecting the overall health of women workers in industries that have accommodated information technology. The sample consisted of 23 establishments and 630 women respondents. Results show that the most prevalent issues among workers in the electronics industry included the need to upgrade skills, repetitive and fast paced work, pressure at work, and work that entailed both physically and mentally demanding tasks. It was found that the overall good physical health of the workers was affected by these factors: overtime, mental work, close monitoring, medium industries, poor quality of work, and hazardous work (P. =0.05). Meanwhile, heavy physical workload, awkward positions, long hours of standing, tasks that produce pressure, pressure at work, limited rest breaks and low participation in benchmarking were variables found to be associated with body pains (P. =0.05). On the other hand, workers in the electronics industry with poor quality of work and exposure to hazards faced a higher risk of deafness. The same risk was also present among those that do have health and safety policies, and fair regular benefits (P. =0.05). The study has shown that work in the 21st century in spite of being Information-Technology (IT) intensive is still beset with work and health issues. Contrary to the belief that IT is light and stimulating, assembly line workers have reported rather issues in both objective and subjective occupational conditions affecting their health.

Keywords: Organizational Hazard, Health, Women Workers, Information Technology

Introduction

The issue of stress levels in the workplace is of growing interest in the field of occupational health. Stress has been defined as a continuous averse situation, the evasion of which is subjectively (1) or objectively important to an individual. In situations of stress, the individual is not totally in control. In the setting of a work environment, the main sources of occupational stress are organizational factors (job demands, rank, etc) (van Vegchel, et al., 2001) and work hazards, the most common of which are air pollution, noise, vibration, physical and psychophysiologic strain, visual exertion, and inadequate working posture (Mironov, et al., 1994). Occupational stress has consistently been related to the incidence of psychosomatic disorders and mental stress (Spurgeon, et al., 1997; Mironov, et al., 1994). In a study by Noriega, et al., (2000), it was seen that job-related demands and work organization (excessive work, strict supervision, dangerous work, unnatural positions, and intense and hard physical labor) were intimately linked to mental and psychosomatic disorders and fatigue. Moreover, it was found that the ill effects of these occupational stressors were additive, and sometimes even synergistic. Other studies have also found occupational stress to be directly associated with state of health, and inversely associated with global constructive thinking and job satisfaction (Stacciarini & Troccoli, 2004).

The International Labor Organization (ILO) in 1984 defined psychosocial problems in the workplace as interactions between and among the work environment, job content and organizational conditions and the worker's capacities, needs, culture and personal extra-job considerations that may affect perceptions and experiences of health, work performance, and job satisfaction (ILO, 1998). Indeed, the health effects of work hazards and organizational factors that bring about stress span a wide variety of physical and psychophysiological disorders that impair human well-being and hamper his/her ability to carry out responsibilities both at work and at home. This was seen in the work of Gonzalez, et al. in 2003. After assessment of work health hazards (postural risks, sedentary work, excessive heat, and overcrowding) and psychosocial factors linked to work organization (psychological demands, work control, and social support), they found that continued use of video display terminals (VDT) were associated with visual, musculoskeletal, and skin illnesses, and with fatigue, mental and psychosomatic disorders, more so in women. …

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