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Does stress increase risk for a workplace accident?

Stressful situations often mean that the people involved in them aren't able to keep their minds on what they are doing. Whether you're dealing with stress that comes from a family or personal financial situation or the workplace itself is stressful, if your mind is occupied, it stands to reason that you are more likely to make an error. Errors on the job can lead to workplace accidents -- that's true for everyone on the team.

A study published by the U.S. Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health says that this conclusion isn't just common sense. After reviewing the results of surveys to over 60,000 participants at 58 different companies, researchers were able to conclude that mental distress was a factor in the risk for a workplace accident. In fact, either moderate or high levels of psychological stress increased the odds ratio that an injury might occur by a factor of 1.4.

The researchers also noted that moderate levels of psychological distress were a bigger impact on workplace safety than higher levels of distress simply because they were more predominate. First, situations that cause moderate stress occur more often; second, workers who experience a high level of psychological distress are more likely to recognize they aren't functioning fully and might call in sick or take other action to reduce the risks of accidents.

The link between stress and workplace injuries is important to understand. It lets employers better train and safeguard staff, and it lets workers know when they should back away from certain tasks. Regardless of the mental or psychological stresses involved, though, if you are hurt in an on-the-job injury, you do have options for seeking compensation through workers compensation.

Source: US National Library of Medicine, "Associations between psychological distress, workplace accidents, workplace failures and workplace successes," M.F. Hilton and H.A. Whiteford, accessed March 01, 2017

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