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WORK: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation is an interdisciplinary, international journal which publishes high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts covering the entire scope of the occupation of work. The journal's subtitle has been deliberately laid out: The first goal is the prevention of illness, injury, and disability. When this goal is not achievable, the attention focuses on assessment to design client-centered intervention, rehabilitation, treatment, or controls that use scientific evidence to support best practice.
WORK occasionally publishes thematic issues, but in general, issues cover a wide range of topics such as ergonomic considerations with children, youth and students, the challenges facing an aging workforce, workplace violence, injury management, performing artists, ergonomic product evaluations, and the awareness of the political, cultural, and environmental determinants of health related to work.
Dr. Karen Jacobs, the founding editor, and her editorial board especially encourage the publication of research studies, clinical practice, case study reports, as well as personal narratives and critical reflections of lived work experiences (autoethnographic/autobiographic scholarship),
Sounding Board commentaries and
Speaking of Research articles which provide the foundation for better understanding research to facilitate knowledge dissemination.
Narrative Reflections on Occupational Transitions, a new column, is for persons who have successfully transitioned into, between, or out of occupations to tell their stories in a narrative form. With an internationally renowned editorial board,
WORK maintains high standards in the evaluation and publication of manuscripts. All manuscripts are reviewed expeditiously and published in a timely manner.
WORK prides itself on being an author-friendly journal.
WORK celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015.
*WORK is affiliated with the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT)* *WORK is endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA)* *WORK gives out the yearly Cheryl Bennett Best Paper Award*
Abstract: BACKGROUND: There is limited data available regarding the cost of firefighter injuries. This information is necessary to develop targeted injury prevention strategies. OBJECTIVE: To categorize the cost of injuries filed in 2012 by firefighters from a from a large department by job duty, injury type, body part affected, and the general motion pattern employed at the time of injury. METHODS: Data were taken from reports filed by CFD personnel and claims filed with the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) of Alberta between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. RESULTS: Of the 244 injuries…reported, 65% were categorized as sprains and strains, the most frequent of which affected the back (32%). The total cost of all claims was $555,955; 77% were sprain/strain-related. Knee and back injuries were most costly ($157,383 and $100,459). Categorized by job duty, most sprains/strains (31%) were sustained while attending to fire station responsibilities, although physical training was associated with the highest costs (34%). Fireground operations were attributed to 18% of sprains/strains and 16% of costs. Lifting injuries were more frequent (23%) and costly (20%) than all injuries. CONCLUSIONS : The most common and costly injuries occurred while attending to fire station-related responsibilities and during physical training.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Background speech is one of the most disturbing noise sources at shared workplaces in terms of both annoyance and performance-related disruption. Therefore, it is important to identify techniques that can efficiently protect performance against distraction. It is also important that the techniques are perceived as satisfactory and are subjectively evaluated as effective in their capacity to reduce distraction. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the current study was to compare three methods of attenuating distraction from background speech: masking a background voice with nature sound through headphones, masking a background voice with other voices through headphones and merely…wearing headphones (without masking) as a way to attenuate the background sound. Quiet was deployed as a baseline condition. METHODS: Thirty students participated in an experiment employing a repeated measures design. RESULTS: Performance (serial short-term memory) was impaired by background speech (1 voice), but this impairment was attenuated when the speech was masked – and in particular when it was masked by nature sound. Furthermore, perceived workload was lowest in the quiet condition and significantly higher in all other sound conditions. Notably, the headphones tested as a sound-attenuating device (i.e. without masking) did not protect against the effects of background speech on performance and subjective work load. CONCLUSIONS: Nature sound was the only masking condition that worked as a protector of performance, at least in the context of the serial recall task. However, despite the attenuation of distraction by nature sound, perceived workload was still high – suggesting that it is difficult to find a masker that is both effective and perceived as satisfactory.
Keywords: Background speech, masking sound, serial recall, work load
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Worksite wellness programs offer an ideal setting to target high-risk sedentary workers to improve health status. Lack of physical activity is associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease and mortality. Despite the risks, the number of sedentary workers is increasing. OBJECTIVE: This study examined the perceived barriers and motivators for physical activity among employees at high-risk for coronary heart disease. METHODS: A purposive sample of 24 high-risk workers participating in a wellness program in rural South Carolina were enrolled in the study. Qualitative data was obtained through semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Grounded theory was…used to analyze qualitative data, and identify overarching themes. RESULTS: Physical limitations due to pain and weakness, lack of motivation, and lack of time emerged as the main barriers to physical activity. Family relationships were reported as the strongest motivator along with social support and potential health benefits. CONCLUSION: Findings highlight the unique experience of high-risk workers with physical activity. The findingsunderscore the need to design and implement effective interventions specifically designed to meet the needs of high-risk employees.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The restrictive effect of backpack loads on chest expansion has been widely reported but little is known whether pulmonary function in children is affected by the placement of the straps of the backpack. OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of strap configuration and backpack loads on pulmonary function among school age children. METHODS: Eighteen children (mean age of 12±1.68 years) participated in this study. Pulmonary functionwas assessed using spirometryat baseline and during five test conditions. Two strap configurations were compared: double straps with the backpack worn midline on the back with one strap over each…shoulder and single strap with the backpack worn laterally with one strap over the shoulder. RESULTS: A marginal increase was shown in all measures of pulmonary function during standing and walking, and as the backpack weight increased. However, all the marginal changes in pulmonary function tests across different weights and strap patterns were not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: Variable backpack loading and strap options appear to influence changes to the pulmonary function of children. Although the observed changes are marginal, it could not be determined if they have a long term effect. Further investigations of larger sample size are required to inform practice.
Keywords: Pulmonary function tests, children, lifting/adverse effects, walking
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The coal mining industry relies heavily on a hearing protector (HP) for noise protection. Researchers suggested that individual HP fit tests be conducted to estimate the noise attenuation. OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether individual fit tests accurately predicted workers’ ear plug noise protection while working and whether the real-time noise reduction (NR) remained constant in mining work while an ear plug was worn. METHODS: A total of 11 subjects from 3 coal mines each was fit tested using the microphone-in-real-ear (MIRE) technique on their E-A-Rtrademark earplugs in a typical mine office. The same fit…tested miners each wore the same type of earplugs in his usual manner doing his normal work. The minute-by-minute real-time NRwork values were determined continuously during full shifts of work. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Results showed there was a modest prediction relationship (R2 = 0.53) between NRfit and NRwork . NRwork values of each miner’s earplug fluctuated over 20 dBA while the earplug was worn. However, each was still able to achieve an average NRwork of more than 10 dBA, indicating the earplug was somewhat effective in reducing noise, if worn. Refitting was an important cause of the low NRwork values. Low-frequency noise sources might be also important causes.
Keywords: Office fit test, worksite, noise attenuation, difference
Abstract: BACKGROUND: This study investigates the determinants of long working hours from the perspectives of the demand-control model [Karasek, 1979] and social exchange theory [Blau, 1964; Goulder, 1960]. OBJECTIVE: These two theoretical perspectives are tested to understand why individuals work longer (or shorter) hours. METHODS: The hypotheses are tested with a representative sample of 1,604 employed Canadians. RESULTS: In line with Karasek’s model, the results support that high job demands are positively associated with longer work hours. The social exchange perspective would predict a positive association between skill discretion and work hours. This hypothesis…was supported for individuals with a higher education degree. Finally, the results support a positive association between active jobs and longer work hours. CONCLUSIONS: Our research suggests that job demands and social exchange dynamics need to be considered together in the explanation of longer (or shorter) work hours.
Keywords: Work hours, job demands, skill discretion, job design
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Accommodating mental health in the workplace is challenging. Despite policy efforts to encourage the availability of mental health accommodations in the workplace, employees experiencing mental illness are missing out on accommodations that they need. OBJECTIVE: To inform vocational rehabilitation professionals and managers in the public service of best practice accommodations for government employees with anxiety disorders. METHODS: Thematic analysis was applied to data collected from the online Accommodating Government Employees with Anxiety Disorders Survey undertaken by 71 Australian public service employees diagnosed with at least one anxiety disorder. RESULTS: Our research results…include theme and sub-theme representations of accommodations received, accommodations reported as missing, accommodations that study participants felt they couldn’t request, along with rejected accommodations. CONCLUSION: From the study participants’ accounts, three key findings supporting desirable vocational outcomes become apparent. First, that the availability of ‘standard’ flexible work arrangements, along with personalised accommodations, can assist persons with anxiety disorders (where needed) to reach and retain government positions. Second, the chief barriers reported to making accommodation requests revolve around fears of being stigmatised and penalised. Finally, there is a need for managerial decision-makers to remain open-minded, particularly when assessing requests for accommodations that may break from government norms.
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Workplace injuries place a significant physical, social and financial burden on organisations globally. Paramedics provide emergency management of workplace injuries, and are subjected to heightened injury risk as a direct consequence of providing such care. OBJECTIVE: This review aims to identify the current evidence reporting workplace musculoskeletal injury generally, and to relate this to pre-employment physical capacity testing within the paramedic industry specifically. METHOD: A search of the electronic databases (Ovid Medline, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, NIOSHTIC-2, RILOSH, CISDOC and HSELINE) was completed using the keywords musculoskeletal, workplace, injury, industrial, accident, pre-employment physical capacity testing, paramedic,…emergency service employee, firefighter, and police. Articles were excluded if they did not describe pre-employment physical capacity testing, musculoskeletal injuries, or were not available in English. RESULTS: The electronic literature search identified 765 articles, following application of exclusion criteria: based on title/abstract of article (669); no relevance (62) or unavailable in English (4), 30 articles were included in this review. The review identified that physical fitness, gender, age, equipment and demographic variables were key factors in the current high rate of paramedic workplace injury. However, there is little evidence available to quantify the relationship between pre-employment physical capacity testing and subsequent injury amongst the paramedic cohort. CONCLUSION: Despite evidence suggesting that pre-employment physical capacity testing scores may be predictive of subsequent musculoskeletal injury in paramedics, there are currently no studies in this area. Quantifying the potential association between factors affecting the conduct of paramedic work and the type of injuries that result requires examination through future research.
Keywords: Workplace injury, prehospital emergency health care, predictive assessment
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Information regarding the determinants of successful vocational rehabilitation (VR) is scarce. OBJECTIVE: Investigate whether sex, duration, quality of life and financial circumstances influence the success of VR. METHODS: The study group consisted of 519 participants (293 women, 56%), who finished VR in the period 2000–2014. The group was divided into the following subgroups: dropouts, unsuccessful and successful VR. Data were collected by questionnaire. RESULTS: Income had the most impact on whether the outcome was successful. Having supplemental income when entering the VR program increased the likelihood of a successful conclusion, odds ratio…(OR) 5.60 (95% CI; 2.43–13.59) (p < 0.001), being on sick leave OR 5.02 (95% CI 1.93–13.79) (p < 0.001) or rehabilitation pension OR 1.93 (95% CI 1.07–3.52) (p < 0.03). The participants in the successful sub-group were older (p < 0.06) and stayed in rehabilitation longer (p < 0.001), compared to those who were unsuccessful. However, the effect on OR was limited: 1.03 (95% CI 1.01–1.06) and 1.04 (95% CI 1.02–1.07), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: For this sample, supplemental income appears to be the most important factor for a successful rehabilitation outcome. Checking financial status at the beginning of the rehabilitation process could minimize financial strain and increase the likelihood of success.