2019-04-01 12:00 - Messages

Work Disability Management Communication Bottlenecks Within Large and Complex Public Service Organizations: A Sociotechnical Systems Study

Purpose Within large and complex organizations work disability (WD) communication bottlenecks emerge and contribute to avoidable disability days. Our study utilized soft systems methods to better understand communication problems in WD management. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with disability case managers (n = 10), frontline supervisors (n = 15) and human resource/labor relations specialists (n = 5) within three public service organizations. Interview questions asked about organizational WD system structure and communication practices. Thematic analysis was conducted to examine system structure and emergent communication bottlenecks. Results WD communication took place across a number of internal and external stakeholders. Communication bottlenecks tended to concentrate within WD case manager and frontline supervisor activities. Inconsistent communication across organizations, challenges interacting with external stakeholders, mental health disability information exchange, lack of WD communication experience and previous worker performance represented communication bottlenecks that contributed to avoidable disability days. Conclusions To strengthen communication practices, systems-focused responses towards organizational WD management are required.

Source : Jetha, A., Yanar, B., Lay, A.M. et al. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10926-019-09836-3

Physical capacity, occupational physical demands, and relative physical strain of older employees in construction and healthcare

Purpose To assess age-related differences in physical capacity, occupational physical demands, and relative physical strain at a group level, and the balance between capacity and demands at an individual level, for construction and healthcare workers. Methods Shoulder strength, back strength, and aerobic capacity were assessed among construction (n = 62) and healthcare workers (n = 64). During a full working day, accelerometers estimated upper-arm elevation, trunk flexion, and occupational physical activity as indicators of occupational physical demands. Simultaneously, normalised surface electromyography (%sEMGmax) of the upper trapezius and erector spinae muscles, and normalised electrocardiography (percentage heart rate reserve (%HRR)) estimated relative physical strain. Differences between younger (≤ 44 years) and older (≥ 45 years) workers, as well as the moderating effect of age on the associations between capacity and demands, were analysed per sector. Results Compared to younger workers, older workers had similar strength and lower aerobic capacity; older construction workers had similar demands while older healthcare workers had higher demands. Compared to younger workers, older employees had unfavourable muscle activity patterns; %HRR had a tendency to be lower for older construction workers and higher for older healthcare workers. Among construction workers, age moderated the associations between shoulder strength and arm elevation (p = 0.021), and between aerobic capacity and occupational physical activity (p = 0.040). Age did not moderate these associations among healthcare workers. Conclusions In both sectors, the level of occupational physical demands and the higher relative physical strain in older employees require addressing to promote sustainable work participation among an aging population.

Source : Merkus, S.L., Lunde, LK., Koch, M. et al. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health (2019) 92: 295.




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