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Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Occupational Safety and Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2023) | Viewed by 13595

Special Issue Editors

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Atlanta, GA 30329, USA
Interests: future of work; strategic foresight; occupational safety and health paradigm; well-being
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Office of the Director, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA
Interests: strategic foresight; health education; organizational design; well-being; occupational safety and health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are witnessing what is arguably one of the most sudden and fast-paced disruptions to work and jobs in modern history. While these disruptions have significantly altered and interrupted normal work activities with little advanced warning, they have also provided unparalleled opportunity for innovation and new work arrangements that have resulted in the potential for increased productivity and enhanced worker well-being.

These disruptions have also fundamentally impacted the practice of occupational safety and health (OSH) around the world. Existing OSH paradigms have been challenged to respond to the effects these sudden disruptions have had for work and working people.

This special issue is devoted to the exploration of the future of work and occupational safety and health. This future will continue to be influenced by the lingering impacts of a global pandemic, and the psychosocial, political, and economic environments in which work occurs around the world.

Authors are invited to submit original manuscripts that help elucidate the challenges and opportunities the future of work will bring to the practice of OSH. Consideration of OSH solutions to evolving changes in work arrangements, employment patterns, workforce availability, workplace hazards and risks, and workplace regulation are encouraged. 

Dr. Sarah A. Felknor
Dr. Jessica Streit
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • future of work
  • occupational safety and health
  • workplace solutions
  • work arrangements
  • employment patterns
  • workforce availability
  • workplace hazards and risks
  • workplace regulation
  • well-being
  • disruption

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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15 pages, 319 KiB  
Article
Perspectives and Attitudes of Newer New Jersey High School Teachers towards Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting Consumer Products Used in School Classrooms
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21(2), 211; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph21020211 - 10 Feb 2024
Viewed by 745
Abstract
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increased reported use of chemical cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products (CSDPs), which created public concerns about negative health consequences for both children and adults in public schools. A subset of newer teachers shared experiences regarding safety [...] Read more.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increased reported use of chemical cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products (CSDPs), which created public concerns about negative health consequences for both children and adults in public schools. A subset of newer teachers shared experiences regarding safety and health (S&H) while working in school-based settings through a series of online surveys. Surveys were provided to teachers who completed work-based learning supervisory trainings provided by the New Jersey Safe Schools Program between October 2021 and June 2023. The participants answered questions focusing on CSDPs purchased for school use, their attitudes towards CSDPs, their use of personal protective equipment, and symptoms employees may have had due to CSDPs. A total of 205 teacher participants successfully completed the surveys. Over 25% of the teachers did not know where their CSDPs originated from, as they were provided by the school. Most participants “sometimes”, “not often”, or “never” read labels for CSDP ingredients or looked them up on healthy product apps. The participants (60%) tended to wear gloves while cleaning/disinfecting but did not wear masks. A third of the participants experienced respiratory health problems after working at school. Overall, the data suggest that more education on S&H regarding CSDPs needs to be provided to New Jersey teachers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
13 pages, 1551 KiB  
Article
Conflict in the EMS Workforce: An Analysis of an Open-Ended Survey Question Reveals a Complex Assemblage of Stress, Burnout, and Pandemic-Related Factors Influencing Well-Being
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(10), 5861; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20105861 - 18 May 2023
Viewed by 1610
Abstract
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) clinicians provide patient care within a high-stakes, unpredictable, and complex work environment in which conflict is inevitable. Our objective was to explore the extent to which added stressors of the pandemic exacerbated EMS workplace conflict. We administered our survey [...] Read more.
Emergency Medical Services (EMS) clinicians provide patient care within a high-stakes, unpredictable, and complex work environment in which conflict is inevitable. Our objective was to explore the extent to which added stressors of the pandemic exacerbated EMS workplace conflict. We administered our survey to a sample of U.S. nationally certified EMS clinicians during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2022. Out of 1881 respondents, 46% (n = 857) experienced conflict and 79% (n = 674) provided free-text descriptions of their experience. The responses were analyzed for themes using qualitative content analysis, and they were then sorted into codes using word unit sets. Code counts, frequencies, and rankings were tabulated, enabling quantitative comparisons of the codes. Of the fifteen codes to emerge, stress (a precursor of burnout) and burnout-related fatigue were the key factors contributing to EMS workplace conflict. We mapped our codes to a conceptual model guided by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report on using a systems approach to address clinician burnout and professional well-being to explore implications for addressing conflict within that framework. Factors attributed to conflict mapped to all levels of the NASEM model, lending empirical legitimacy to a broad systems approach to fostering worker well-being. Our findings lead us to propose that active surveillance (enhanced management information and feedback systems) of frontline clinicians’ experiences during public health emergencies could increase the effectiveness of regulations and policies across the healthcare system. Ideally, the contributions of the occupational health discipline would become a mainstay of a sustained response to promote ongoing worker well-being. The maintenance of a robust EMS workforce, and by extension the health professionals in its operational sphere, is unquestionably essential to our preparedness for the likelihood that pandemic threats may become more commonplace. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
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24 pages, 2280 KiB  
Article
Health and Safety Risk Mitigation among Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Miners in Zimbabwe
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(21), 14352; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192114352 - 02 Nov 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2288
Abstract
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is often associated with no or compromised attention to health and safety. Although headlines of fatal accidents in Zimbabwe characterise ASGM, little attention is paid to prevention strategies. This study, therefore, explores health and safety risk mitigation [...] Read more.
Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is often associated with no or compromised attention to health and safety. Although headlines of fatal accidents in Zimbabwe characterise ASGM, little attention is paid to prevention strategies. This study, therefore, explores health and safety risk mitigation in ASGM in Zimbabwe to inform prevention strategies. A qualitative design was used with focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis, coding, and descriptive statistics. Reported factors contributing to compromised health and safety included immediate causes, workplace factors, ASM related factors, and contextual factors, with interconnectedness between the causal factors. In addition, factors related to ASGM were significant. For risk mitigation, formalisation, organisation of risk reduction, behaviour change, and enforcement of prevention strategies is proposed. A multi-causal analysis is recommended for risk assessment and accident investigation. A multi-stakeholder approach could be considered for risk mitigation including community and public health interventions. However, risk mitigation has been characterised by gaps and weaknesses such as lacking ASM policy, lack of capital, poor enforcement, negative perceptions, and non-compliance. Therefore, we recommend addressing the threats associated with health and safety mitigation to ensure health and safety protection in ASGM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
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12 pages, 952 KiB  
Article
Association between Workers’ Anxiety over Technological Automation and Sleep Disturbance: Results from a Nationally Representative Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(16), 10051; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph191610051 - 15 Aug 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Despite the positive aspects of recent technological innovations, fears are mounting among workers that machines will inevitably replace most human jobs in the future. This study is the first to explore the association between individual-level automation anxiety and insomnia among workers. We scored [...] Read more.
Despite the positive aspects of recent technological innovations, fears are mounting among workers that machines will inevitably replace most human jobs in the future. This study is the first to explore the association between individual-level automation anxiety and insomnia among workers. We scored the worker’s anxiety over technological automation with five questions. The total sum of scores for participants was categorized in quartiles (Q1–Q4). Logistic regression was employed to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs). The highest scoring group (Q4) had the highest OR for sleep disturbance (OR [95% CI]:1.40 [1.27–1.55]) compared to the lowest scoring group (Q1). ORs of the highest scoring group (Q4) were strongest for the young (OR [95% CI]:1.96 [1.52–2.53]), followed by the middle-aged (OR [95% CI]:1.40 [1.20–1.64]), and old age groups (OR [95% CI]:1.29 [1.10–1.51]). In addition, a 1-point increase in the automation anxiety score had the strongest association with sleep disturbance in the young (OR [95% CI]:1.07 [1.05–1.10]), followed by the middle-aged (OR [95% CI]:1.03 [1.02–1.04]), and old age groups (OR [95% CI]:1.02 [1.01–1.04]). Our study suggests that policies such as worker retraining are needed to alleviate workers’ undue anxiety. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
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Review

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40 pages, 1814 KiB  
Review
Acute Effect of Night Shift Work on Endothelial Function with and without Naps: A Scoping Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(19), 6864; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20196864 - 29 Sep 2023
Viewed by 2557
Abstract
We examined the breadth and depth of the current evidence investigating napping/sleeping during night shift work and its impact on non-invasive measures of endothelial function. We used a scoping review study design and searched five databases: Ovid Medline, EMBASE, Ovid APA PsycInfo, Web [...] Read more.
We examined the breadth and depth of the current evidence investigating napping/sleeping during night shift work and its impact on non-invasive measures of endothelial function. We used a scoping review study design and searched five databases: Ovid Medline, EMBASE, Ovid APA PsycInfo, Web of Science Core Collection, and EBSCO CINAHL. We limited our search to English language and publications from January 1980 to September 2022. Our reporting adhered to the PRISMA-ScR guidance for scoping reviews. Our search strategy yielded 1949 records (titles and abstracts) after deduplication, of which 36 were retained for full-text review. Five articles were retained, describing three observational and two experimental research studies with a total sample of 110 individuals, which examined the non-invasive indicators of endothelial function in relation to the exposure to night shift work. While there is some evidence of an effect of night shift work on the non-invasive indicators of endothelial function, this evidence is incomplete, limited to a small samples of shift workers, and is mostly restricted to one measurement technique for assessing endothelial function with diverse protocols. In addition, there is no identifiable research investigating the potential benefits of napping during night shift work on non-invasive measures of endothelial function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
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21 pages, 899 KiB  
Review
Expanding the Focus of Occupational Safety and Health: Lessons from a Series of Linked Scientific Meetings
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(22), 15381; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192215381 - 21 Nov 2022
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3324
Abstract
There is widespread recognition that the world of work is changing, and agreement is growing that the occupational safety and health (OSH) field must change to contribute to the protection of workers now and in the future. Discourse on the evolution of OSH [...] Read more.
There is widespread recognition that the world of work is changing, and agreement is growing that the occupational safety and health (OSH) field must change to contribute to the protection of workers now and in the future. Discourse on the evolution of OSH has been active for many decades, but formalized support of an expanded focus for OSH has greatly increased over the past 20 years. Development of approaches such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)’s Total Worker Health® concept and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Healthy Workplace Framework are concrete examples of how OSH can incorporate a new focus with a wider view. In 2019, NIOSH initiated a multi-year effort to explore an expanded focus for OSH. This paper is a report on the outputs of a three-year cooperative agreement between NIOSH and The University of Texas School of Public Health, which led to subject matter expert workshops in 2020 and an international conference of global interest groups in 2021. This article traces the background of these meetings and identifies and assesses the lessons learned. It also reviews ten thematic topics that emerged from the meetings: worker health inequalities; training new OSH professionals; future OSH research and practice; tools to measure well-being of workers; psychosocial hazards and adverse mental health effects; skilling, upskilling and improving job quality; socioeconomic influences; climate change; COVID-19 pandemic influences; and strategic foresight. Cross-cutting these themes is the need for systems and transdisciplinary thinking and operationalization of the concept of well-being to prepare the OSH field for the work of the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Future of Work and Occupational Safety and Health)
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