Adverse Effects of Stress and Hazard Desensitization in the Work-Force for the Semiconductor Industry

Olson, William M.
(University of Wisconsin-Stout)

Studies have found that one-fourth of employees view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives and that three-fourths of employees believe the worker has more on-the-job stress than a generation ago. According to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, health care expenditures are nearly 50% higher for workers who report high stress levels and the 1995 Workers Compensation Yearbook stated that by 1995 nearly one-half of the states allowed worker compensation claims for emotional disorders and disability due to stress on the job. This study is designed to identify and compare psychological mechanisms that decrease performance and increase worksite injury and illness during high stress and emergency situations in the semiconductor industry. In order to evaluate the dynamic interconnected relationship of semiconductor employee injuries to current practices and stress-induced losses, an extensive literature review was performed. It was found that current practices and situations currently active in the semiconductor industry induce stress levels that can directly impact and/or aggravate adverse physiological, psychological, and behavioral conditions. The employee’s perception of stress severity can have a major impact on the psychological and physiological effect on the body and can thereby initiate adverse behaviors. These adverse impacts and behaviors can cause the occurrence of an accident or incident even in well structured and implemented safety programs through the activation of desensitization and overconfidence principles caused by the worksite and the safety programs designed for the worker. Overall, steps can be taken to reduce the impact felt by the stress inducing situations and accident and incident reduction can be accomplished through identifying stress causes and symptoms, programming for desensitization and overconfidence, and making stress control adjustments to current programming.

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