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Psychosocial factors and health at work
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Psychosocial factors and health at work

Introduction to PSYCHOSOCIAL FACTORS AND HEALTH AT WORK
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Hello, now we will introduce to you how psychosocial factors at work may affect health. I have with me Doctor Mageroey who works on such problems. How does harassment at work affect the worker’s health? - Harassed persons can develop serious stress-related diseases. They can for instance develop serious depressions that can lead to reduced ability to work and expulsion from work life. The work place means a lot for the employees. Workers stay at the work place for long periods of their life, and the social life we experience here is very important. Many workers have great work places and enjoy the companionship they experience with their colleagues.
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However, when persons work together, they sometimes end up with problems; some people just cannot like each other and cannot work together. The expression “psychosocial work environment factors” is for instance used for the interpersonal relationship between the employer and the employees as well as between the employees.
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How we work together is the issue. How you are treated and how you treat others. In the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 23 it is written that “Everyone has the right to just and favourable conditions of work”. We need to concentrate to achieve just and favourable conditions at all work places. Every worker is important and should be treated with dignity and respect by both leaders and colleagues. Included in the expression psychosocial work factors are also more specific organizational factors at work, including; who is the leader, how is the workplace organized and structured, do workers have the equipment they need to perform their work?
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Are workers sufficiently trained and skilled to do the work, do they need assistance and how can they get the assistance they require? Other questions about the psychosocial conditions
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include: How are you paid? Are you treated fairly? As you can see, there are many aspects to consider, and they are all very important for the worker’s psychosocial health. This week we will tell you what happens when the psychosocial working conditions are not optimal. This may lead to a number of different diseases that we describe as stress-related. Workers who have these types of problems may develop mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression. They can develop problems with their sleeping pattern. They can develop gastrointestinal symptoms, or cardiovascular diseases and their immune system can be affected. It is important to remember that also these types of problems can be prevented; that is what we at all times
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try to underline in this course: The health problems can be prevented. One example of a psychosocial problem area is with workers whose work involves helping others. For instance, a priest. A priest may counsel large numbers of persons each with personnel problems every week. This is a part of the priest’s work. Sometimes a priest can feel that this work is overwhelming, and he can begin to feel depressed and drained. He might not be able to do any effective counselling. However, it is possible to avoid such situations developing. Here, the priest and his surroundings can do a number of things. Some psychosocial work factors are quite concrete and specific. One topic is working hours, and we will discuss shift work with you.
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What is the definition of night shifts? Is this type of work harmful for your health? How should we work and live if we need to work during the night? Another important topic is the area of conflicts. We will tell you a few things related to conflicts at work; when people do not get along. This happens all the time when there are human beings working together. Strikes are very serious types of conflict which sometimes take place in the working life. However, not all conflicts are like that, most often conflicts are a normal part of life. Conflicts can be a part of a normal discussion, and we should not be afraid of disagreements.
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Disagreements can be constructive and lead to new thoughts and ideas. The problem with disagreements is when no solution develops but the disagreement remains as a problem area without solution. This must be avoided. And of course, we must avoid that work places accepts situations where workers are harassed by others. We will teach you more about harassment at work this week - We should be very aware of signs of harassment and do our very best to avoid this type of negative behavior at the work places. - Yes, because harassment among adults at work can be prevented and we want you to help us in reducing this world wide problem.

This week consists of four topics, followed by one discussion and a quiz

Psychosocial work environment

In this session you will learn about the psychosocial work environment. This concerns our general well-being at work. Both positive and negative work environment factors will be described. Expressions including stress and psychosomatic diseases will be explained to you, and you will learn about post- traumatic stress syndrome and a condition called “burn-out”.

Conflicts at work

The purpose of this lecture is to tell you that it is common for all persons to have disagreements with someone from time to time, also at work. However, if these disagreements are not solved, they may lead to health problems among the workers involved. This lecture will give you some examples on such disagreements and some suggestions on how to solve them. At the end, some informationabout strikes is given.

Harassment among adults at the work place

In this lecture we will tell you what harassment at work is. We will tell you how harassment can influence the health and life of the affected worker, and that this type of behavior can have very serious consequences. We will tell you how harassment may be expressed among the workers in general and we will also mention sexual harassment and whistle blowing. We will tell you how you can help in harassment situations and also tell you how harassment can be prevented.

Shift work and health

In this session you will learn about different definitions of shift work, the type of workers who have this type of work schedule, what kind of negative health effects shift work may cause and how to prevent these negative effects on health.

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Occupational Health in Developing Countries

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