Workload and exposure to hazardous materials leave workers sick, making them keep away from work, Finnish researchers say.
They had sought to determine which work arrangements, physical working conditions, and psychosocial working conditions were important risk factors for sickness absence.
Survey data on working conditions collected among the employees of the City of Helsinki during 2000 to 2002 were linked to the employer's sickness absence records for the subsequent 3 years. First occurrences of short-term (1−3 days), intermediate (4−14 days), and long-term (15 days or more) sickness absence episodes were examined.
They found heavy physical work load and hazardous exposures were consistently associated with increased sickness absence episodes of all lengths. The risk of intermediate and long-term absence episodes was increased by 24% to 28% per one standard deviation increase in physical work load. Low job control in women and job dissatisfaction in men increased the risk of sickness absence episodes of all lengths.
In their conclusion, published in the Annals of Epidemiology, Mikko Laaksonen, PhD, Department of Public Health and his colleague said, "Heavy physical work load and hazardous exposures had the strongest associations with sickness absence. Furthermore, low job control in women and job dissatisfaction in men were consistently associated with increased risk of sickness absence.."
The study was supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund and the Academy of Finland.