What the French working conditions surveys tell us

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Since 1978, France's Ministry of Labour and the National Statistical Institute (INSEE) have carried out four large-scale sample surveys on working conditions among approximately 20,000 workers, questioned by survey-takers at home, that provide invaluable descriptive information on how work is changing. The last survey published was from 1998, and the 2005 survey is being processed at the time of writing. Taking a lead from this example among others, the European Commission tasked the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions to carry out similar surveys in EU countries in 1990, 1995, 2000, and now 2005. Between them, these surveys portray an alarming situation where workers are seeing their working conditions getting worse. Another survey using a different methodology, carried out by occupational doctors during health checks on 50,000 workers--the Sumer survey, from the French acronym for the health risk screening program--done for the Ministry of Labour in 1994 and 2003, points to the same general trends. In both France and the broader European Union (EU), physical demands and risks are not lessening, mental workload is growing, working hours are more diverse and less regular, work paces more demanding, compressed deadlines reduce job predictability and task discretion. . . . But at the same time, workers report having more leeway in discharging responsibilities that have expanded due to the rise in skill levels and new forms of work organization.

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Introduction: An analysis of the occupational constraints and exposures to which employees facing road risk at work are subject was performed, with comparison versus non-exposed employees. Objective was to improve knowledge of the characteristics of workers exposed to road risk in France and of the concomitant occupational constraints. The descriptive study was based on data from the 2010 SUMER survey (Medical Monitoring of Occupational Risk Exposure: Surveillance Médicale des Expositions aux Risques professionnels), which included data not only on road risk exposure at work but also on a range of socio-occupational factors and working conditions. Materials and methods: The main variable of interest was "driving (car, truck, bus, coach, etc.) on public thoroughfares" for work (during the last week of work). This was a dichotomous "Yes/No" variable, distinguishing employees who drove for work; it also comprised 4-step weekly exposure duration: <2h, 2-10h, 10-20h and ≥20h. Results: 75% of the employees with driving exposure were male. Certain socio-occupational categories were found significantly more frequently: professional drivers (INSEE occupations and socio-occupational categories (PCS) 64), skilled workers (PCS 61), intermediate professions and teaching, health, civil service (functionaries) and assimilated (PCS 46) and company executives (PCS 36). Employees with driving exposure more often worked in small businesses or establishments. Constraints in terms of schedule and work-time were more frequent in employees with driving exposure. Constraints in terms of work rhythm were more frequent in non-exposed employees, with the exception of external demands requiring immediate response. On the Karasek's Job Demand-Control Model, employees with driving exposure less often had low decision latitude. Prevalence of job-strain was also lower, as was prevalence of "iso-strain" (combination of job-strain and social isolation). Employees with driving exposure were less often concerned by hostile behavior and, when they did report such psychological violence (inspired on the Leymann questionnaire), it was significantly more frequently due to clients, users or patients. Discussion: Employees with driving exposure at work showed several specificities. The present study, based on a representative nationwide survey of employees, confirmed the existence of differences in working conditions between employees with and without driving exposure at work. In employees with driving exposure, constraints in terms of work-time and rhythm increased with weekly exposure duration, as did tension at work and exposure to hostile behavior.
The purpose of the present study was to investigate the phenomenon of mobbing and harassment at work (mobbing syndrome), in relation to work environment, stress and health symptoms in a sample of workers in four different workplaces in Athens. The research was conducted with a sample of 75 professionals responding to self-reported mobbing questionnaire. 39% reported being mobbing victims at work, 37% reported having problems with conflicts at work/confusion of roles, 31% having lack of interest and control in their work, 31% experienced extreme anxiety, difficulty in communication, 28% headaches, sleep disturbances, 68% feeling mobbing having an impact on personal and family life, while 91% indicate the need of legislation to tackle the phenomenon. Employees exposed to occupational mobbing can have significant benefits when they receive support, on an individual and/or group basis, by social work interventions.
We estimated the extent of exposure to occupational carcinogens in Quebec, Canada, to help raise awareness of occupational cancers. Proportions of workers exposed to 21 recognized and 17 probable carcinogens (according to Quebec occupational health regulation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer [IARC] classification) were extracted from various sources: workplace monitoring data, research projects, a population survey, radiation protection data, exposure estimates from the Carcinogen Exposure Canada (CAREX Canada) Project database, and published exposure data. These proportions were applied to Quebec labor force data. Among the 38 studied, carcinogens with the largest proportions of exposed workers were solar radiation (6.6% of workers), night shift work/rotating shift work including nights (6.0%), diesel exhaust fumes (4.4%), wood dust (2.9%) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (2.0%). More than 15 carcinogens were identified in several industrial sectors, and up to 100,000 young workers are employed in these sectors. Although crude, estimates obtained with different data sources allow identification of research and intervention priorities for cancer in Quebec. Am. J. Ind. Med. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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