Mental health stress in the industrial workplace

Mental health stress in the industrial workplace

As the conversation around mental health in the workplace has changed, workers in some industries are feeling better equipped to use their company’s wellness resources or advocate for what they need. Many employers have incorporated burnout and resiliency into their corporate vocabulary. Others have worked to reassure employees that they won’t differentiate between mental and physical healthcare needs when it comes to time off, treatment and accommodations.

But it’s no surprise that these changes are centered in the white-collar working world, and that for industrial workers, mental health and workplace stress still aren’t getting their due.

A new report from StrongArm Technologies, conducted by the third-party research firm YouGov, shows just how much stress is affecting industrial workers, and how concerns for their physical safety add to that stress.

Sources of industrial workplace stress

To get a sampling of industrial workplace demands, YouGov surveyed hundreds of employees in warehousing, transport, manufacturing and construction. The poll revealed that:

  • 47 percent of all surveyed felt stressed in their jobs.
  • 32 percent of warehouse and transport workers felt too tired to be fully engaged with their family and friends when off work.
  • 24 percent of warehouse and transport workers felt like they were missing out of life’s most important moments because they had no flexibility.

Workers weren’t suffering from one easily identifiable source of stress, either. Instead, workers faced a number of pervasive issues, including:

  • Overexertion
  • Not enough breaks
  • No flexibility in scheduling
  • Ergonomic stresses
  • No time off or vacation
  • A lack of training

Nearly as many warehouse and transport workers said their job had a negative effect on their mental health (24 percent) as those who say it had a negative effect on their physical health (29 percent).

Safety training and stress

While many industrial workplaces clearly need more resources for employee wellness, better time off policies and an increased focus on work-life balance, the lack of training as a source of stress raises major red flags.

Industrial jobs already have high rates of injury. Construction, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing are among the top industries for fatal occupational injuries in Georgia, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But according to the YouGov report, 51 percent of warehouse and transport workers surveyed said they get five days or less of training. Eighteen percent receive no training at all. When workers fear for their physical safety and that of their coworkers, it’s understandable how job stress could climb.

Employee rights when it comes to mental health in the workplace

Employee rights when it comes to mental health in the workplace

Employees have a right to a safe workplace, and OSHA has extensive training requirements for some employers and industries. When employees believe their workplace is unsafe, they can request an OSHA inspection. No one should feel stressed at work due to a lack of safety training or because of unsafe conditions.

For employees who are already managing a mental health issue, some federal protections exist depending on their employer and the size of the company. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers for mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder or addiction recovery. The Family and Medical Leave Act makes it possible to take limited unpaid time off to receive treatment for a mental health condition.

For employees who have a work-related mental health issue, workers’ compensation can help cover needed treatment and time off, provided the condition can be directly connected to the job.

In any case, remember that while employee protections may exist, employers can still fire workers for performance issues. Sometimes being upfront with an employer, exercising employee rights and taking needed time for treatment is the best course forward.

Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you’re suffering from the symptoms of a mental health disorder, be sure to speak to a mental health professional. If you need help filing a workers’ comp claim for your workplace-related mental health disorder, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.

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