Risk Management Assignment: Psychological Hazards among Manufacturing Workers
Task: You are the Safety and Risk manager of a large manufacturing company that produce a range of personal protective equipment used in health and social care. The company has a large warehouse and distribution hub along with an office based team of employees in marketing, sales, HR and management. All workers are located at the same site.
In March 2020, the Government announced a national lockdown to control the spread of coronavirus. The Chief Executive of the company has told you that the site has been asked to continue production and distribution to maintain the provision of PPE to health and social care providers, while office based staff have now been asked to work from home.
After a month, you are told that the Board of Directors have identified two significant issues and you have been asked to prepare a report for them to help the company prepare for the weeks and months ahead. The two issues are:
1. Employees at the manufacturing site are extremely concerned about the risks of continuing to work at the site and need to be reassured that it is safe to do so. Production is falling which is putting increased pressure on managers and production workers to meet the level of demand. Stress related absence is increasing and a number of staff is now threatening not to come to work.
2. Office based staff are worried that they are not able to work productively from home, and the Board is worried about the effect staff isolation may have on the mental health of this part of their workforce.
Focusing specifically on psychological hazards, you should prepare a report for the Board of Directors to guide them on how to address the two significant issues outlined in the scenario above. The main body of the report on risk management assignment should be tackled in two parts:
- Part 1 should explain how the company could identify what the psychological hazards facing both the manufacturing and office workforce are, noting what types of guidance are available to help assess the situation. Using the information in the scenario and any reasonable assumptions, you should clearly identify and justify which psychological hazards the company should focus on managing.
- Part 2 should then consider how the company could manage the hazards identified in part 1, including outlining and justifying what measures could be put in place to help control the risks arising from the concerns.
The wake of Covid-19 across the world has already generated long-term fear among the employees from the manufacturing industry. People have been worried about an extensive range of issues – from getting laid off from work to get infectious after joining in the work. Many have already lost their jobs due to decreased amount of production and manufacturing works (Abdallah, 2020). Due to the decreasing demand from the people makes the authorities and directors of the big manufacturing companies in leaving their employees without any payment. The whole situation has resulted in an utmost emotional turmoil and stress. The manufacturing sector is among one of those that have received the highest impact after the lockdown (Abdallah, 2020). As workers from the manufacturing sector cannot engage in the remote work environment, they have enhanced a higher chance of losing their job. The restrictions and limitations facing by the organizations make a major impact on the mentality of the employees. The motive of the current assignment is to identify and analyze the influential factor behind psychological hazards among the manufacturing workers to provide preventive measures to the board of directors among the big organizations.
1.1 Aims and Objectives
The current report is aiming in understanding the effective areas in the psychological hazards among the manufacturing workers to generate a brief prevention measure.
The potential objectives of the current report are-
- To identify the psychological hazard that has been faced by both the manufacturing workers
- To understand the management pressure during and after the lockdown situation for the manufacturing workers
- To specify the factors influential psychological hazards among the manufacturing workers
- To generate effective preventive measures and recommendations for the management to increase the productivity of manufacturing workers in the Covid-19 scenario
1.2 Brief of the Approach
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the workers of an organization have also faced challenges, the productivity of the employees has been decreased. Pandemic has also isolated the employees and causes mental stress on them. Employees feel stressed out while works under excessive pressure. Due to this reason, productivity in the workplace will be reduced and caused mental pressure on them. The psychological risks would happen because of the job strains, lack of supervising and co-workers supports can also cause hazards in psychological factors of the human being.
Negative effects of mental health can decrease the performance rates of the employee and also arouse stress in the workplace. Due to COVID-19, the organization has faced loss in the business, but also a negative effect of lockdown has also become the stress factors for the employee of the organization. A study conducted among the workers in Japan stated that the workplace measures have increased the performance growth among the employees. The appropriate preventive measures in response to the Covid-19 create security that improves the mental health of the workers (Sasaki et al., 2020). Psychological risks are the main cause of lessening productivity in the workplace. The organizational management should recognize the factors that have been creating pressure on the employees. It will help them involuntarily promoting mental well-being.
1.3 Context of the Assignment
In the workplace, psychological hazards are increasing because of the COVID-19. It reduces the quality of the works. It also affects the reputation of the organization. In the current report, identification of the psychological risks has been discussed. The impact of the psychological risks in the works has also been discussed. The main intended audience of the current report is the board of directors from manufacturing companies. The report will help in promoting psychological well-being in the post-lockdown situation to improve the risk assessment process. The report has been also discussed how to handle the psychological risk factors in the workplace.
2. Psychological factors that influence human behavior at work
2.1 Identification of psychological risks in the workplace
Psychological risk is developed in the workplace due to different mental stress. The different working values of the worker and situational crisis are also making an impact on the psychological risks. The workplace environment develops psychological risks for the manufacturers. Psychological risk is the main reason behind a decreased productivity among manufacturing workers. The depressive mental state has been developed among the manufacturing workers from the isolated situation in the lockdown(Imamura et al., 2016). For achieving financial goals,organizations should not focus only on production but also on the working environment. Psychological risk is developed in the workplace due to some reasons which include poor management system, poor leadership skill, and excess workload on staff.
- Poor management system: Poor management system is those where the administrative workers, such as HR, supervisor and company manager are unable to generating sufficient environment for the workers to sustain their employment. If an organization is unable to provide security to their workers during an uncertain situation like Covid-19, it considered as having bad management system.
The arguments related this area are –
- Manufacturing works got affected by the poor management system. In this current report, it has been discussed that the national lockdown makes the situation more complex for workers. Due to lockdown, social gatherings have been restricted.It enhanced psychological risk among the workers regarding their health risk.
- Lack of guidance makes employees worried about their job role. Due to poor management, workers did not find a solution to develop their productivity during the lockdown. Poor management system reduces the product quality and develops a negative impact in the workplace. Management can only put pressure on workers without developing the necessary strategy for handling the situation.
The leadership role is very crucial for overall company growth. In a difficult situation like Covid-19, the role of the leader is to take the right decision to handle the situation in a positive way. The lockdown situation after the Covid-19 outbreak has made the situation worse and negative. The arguments in this area are –
- Company growth depends on the leading team and leader planning. They should positively guide the staff on a situational crisis like lockdown.
- The leader develops a plan to motivate the workers to improve their productivity. If the leadership skill is not appropriate, it will develop psychological stress and fail to guide the workers positively.
- Developing psychological stress ultimately hamper overall organizational growth. The financial growth of the company depends on the effectiveness of the manufacturing workers and their management.
- Leadership skill affects the psychological condition of the workers. The skills of a leader enhance the commitment rate of the workers towards their work (Ekpe, Mat, and Adelaiye, 2017). Lack of leadership skills loses to guide the workers in the direction of the company's success.
- In the manufacturing company, workers need guidance about their job. Without proper guidance, they will lose their motivation in improving working quality.
- Mental distress resulted in poor manufacturing work and a decreased productivity.
The excess workload is another reason for developing psychological risk in the workplace. Excess workload creates pressure on workers from the manufacturing industry. Excess workload results in burnout conditions in the worker (Helfrich et al., 2017). The increased workload will increase psychological hazards for the workers in the workplace without a proper framework.
- Excess workload results in an increasing rate of psychological hazards for workers. Psychological hazards result in low work quality.
- During lockdown employees always feel pressure about work and this results in mental disturbances. Burnout is a very common factor under the extreme workload of the company.
- A psychological hazard is a very serious issue in the workplace. Developing psychological risk affects the overall company and adversely affects the mental condition of the worker. A good management skill, leadership can handle this situational crisis and reduce the psychological risk factors that affect the workplace.
2.2 Critical Analysis of the impact of psychological change at the workplace
Physiological hazards generally do not arise from any physical object, so it is impossible to find the extent to which it affects an individual. It has a great influence on the productivity of an organization as it is directly related to the physical and mental well-being of an employee. A worker's physical as well as mental ability to participate in work hampers due to work-related stress. Sometimes excessive occupational stress results in violence at the workplace. Today identification and management of psychological risks are two of the greatest challenge.
Psychological risks arise from poor work designs of an organization which also generates negative effects at the workplace. The possibility of physical stress and injuries more in manufacturing industries compared to official work. Various changes inside an organization sometimes resulted in insecurity in the job and an increase in stress. Sometimes there is a requirement for workload analysis (Wahyuni et al., 2018). Today more awareness is generated which is associated with work-related stress and more case recognition has happened. Today contribution for statistical analysis is increased along with more availability of data for analyzing various psychological risk factors.
The work environment is very important to control stress as psychological stress associated with the environment of the workplace. Workgroups within an organization help to satisfy various needs of an individual such as economic, social, mental etcetera. The more productive the workers, the more successful is the workgroup. There should be formal and informal workgroups. Various professional and personal opinions are exchanged among workgroups. Successful leaders can make various successful workgroups inside an organization. Inter and Intragroup interactions are necessary for positive psychological changes (Vestergren, Drury, and Chiriac, 2018). Various positive solutions can come out effectively during interactions. Only a small part of the needs of an individual can meet by an organization.
In the current scenario, a manufacturing company that has manufacturing and office resources, both segments are very important regarding the business perspective of the company. The company has to keep its manufacturing unit functional during the time of lockdown to produce essential products and office staff has to work from home to make their supply chain steady. Now both teams went through major psychological stress. It is very crucial to identify the most critical impact that causes major stress-related problems (Robillard et al., 2020). The manufacturing unit gets stressed because of safety risks that occurred due to an outbreak of Covid-19. They feel insecure related to physical safety in the workplace. They are concerned about the lack of proper sanitization and practicing social distance. It is not possible practically to monitor the health of every employee on an hourly basis. An asymptomatic but infected worker can infect coworkers unintentionally. Manufacturing workers may feel of community spreading of the disease. They suffer huge psychological stress which affects production as well as the work environment. The huge demand for PPE kit during pandemic needs more production. Psychological stress hinders workers to concentrate on a job which also affects them psychologically. They are absent from job due to psychological stress related to covid-19(Lavie et al., 2016). Employees sometimes do not have the proper infrastructure at home. It has a direct effect on the personal as well as the productivity of the team.
2.3 Risk management in the workplace
Identification of various hazards either physical or psychological, assessing various risks associated with them, and controlling the situation to avoid or mitigate the hazard is known as risk management. More focus should be given to reducing or eliminating various psychological risks following general risk management (Oakman et al., 2018). It is very easy to find potential physical risks and implement various safety measures. The extent of physical injuries can be measured and damage should be identified easily. The industry which demands more physical works implies more safety measures. Modern technologies should be applied to implementing new risk management systems in the workplace.
It is sometimes become very difficult to identify psychological hazards and find out the extent of effects of the potential hazards. Sometimes it becomes impossible to identify who and how someone might harm. Evaluation of potential psychological risks and implementation of precautionary measures is of great challenge in psychological risk management. The role of potential psychological risk factors and their assessment was under-recognized many times (Lavie et al., 2016).
Under lockdown due to covid-19, various new risk factors arise. Covid-19 is a communicable disease so there are high chances of physical hazards and major precautionary measures are required. Lack of office environment, proper infrastructure, improper interaction, and etcetera creates huge work gaps and psychological stress. The occupational perspective has been changed after covid-19(Kramer and Kramer, 2020). Employees working in various manufacturing units having doubly stressed both physically and mentally whereas employees working in the office facing great psychological stress.
The manufacturing industry and the workers have been facing various work stress from both mental and physical perspective. Physical and psychological stress is there for the manufacturing unit. Workers become terrified because covid-19 is a major communicable disease and there is a high chance of community spreading. Workers become psychologically overstressed due to their safety as well as the safety of their respective family members. Proper sanitization of the work environment is of major concern as the pattern of spreading of covid-19 is the trigger of psychological stress. Covid19 affects the livelihood and working of people(Kumar, Bhardwaj, and Indolia, 2020). Due to lack of proper knowledge and risk of contamination, many workers become absent which affects business and production.
The decrease in production affects the economic condition of the organization. It is very stressful for the remaining staff who are present in the workplace to overwork(Kramer and Kramer, 2020). It directly affects the physical and mental health of workers. Lower production would increase production cost and less supply will affect the relationship with consumers. Profit level decrease and so there would be affected by the salary structure of employees. If workers from manufacturing companies have to work with less salary, it would create a major psychological blockage. Management sometimes gets stress because of the absence of efficient workers, less production, financial loss. Physical hazards due to overwork, mental hazards due to covid-19, economic hazards due to salary drop, and organizational hazards due to pressure from management provide overburden among workers of manufacturing units.
Lack of proper environment, poor network connectivity, proper communication among team members, working for long hours to meet a deadline, work at reducing salary affects the productivity of an employee. Less productive the team, high risk of losing profit which causes mental blockage among workers.
Risk management considering all these factors is very important after the post-covid-19 lockdown scenario. Implementation of proper precautionary measures for physical workers along with motivational training for workers of both manufacturing as well as office staff would be very useful.
2.4 Suggestions for psychological risk management in the workplace
Psychological risk management is very difficult for the workplace as a human having different psychology. Workers having a different background with varied psychology sometimes create tension in the workplace which affects various psychological hazards. Protective measures, education, and training are necessary for managing psychological risks (Hesketh and Tehrani, 2019). After covid-19 physical hazards along with psychological stress give major challenges to leaders to implement a risk management plan.
Post Covid-19 lockdown period is very crucial for the management of physical and psychological risks. Physical risks can be reduced by proper sanitization, maintaining proper physical distance, atomization of plants if possible, avoiding direct contact with machines. These practices provide a positive impact on employees which helps to reduce their psychological stress to some extent. As the manufacturing workers cannot get the chance to work from their home, they should be engaged in a regular planning session with the management for improving productivity after lockdown. Regular meetings, thoughts and reports sharing, performance analysis will help everyone to motivate towards the job.
Training is very important in psychological risk management. After a major change, it is very difficult to adapt to various psychological changes. If we take the example of Covid-19, it has a great effect on the physical, psychological, social, and economic sectors of an individual. As human beings are socialized, the workplace becomes a part of life for a worker. Socio-physical adaptations of changes are very difficult (Biserova and Shagivaleeva, 2019). Practicing social distancing provides a major psychological effect on workers. It is not always possible for the manufacturing industry to practice social distancing. It causes a major doubt among individuals whether to practice it or not. A leader must motivate workers positively to adopt this practice.
3. Reasonable, logical, and defendable recommendation for the future solution
Covid-19 pandemic has stopped the entire world as the government announced a world-wide lockdown due to the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown situation in restricting the human’s movement is the initial step to control the spreading of Covid-19. In a place like manufacturing industry, where the workers face human contact continuously, cannot work during the lockdown period. The office staff is instructed to do work from home. But the factory workers could not avail this facility and thus, faced a long-term mental depression.
3.1 Reasonable Recommendations
- The organization should identify the types of psychological hazards by consulting with the workers to get genuine feedback. It will make the employees feeling secured and supported by their organizations.It helps in identifying the actual issue and implement proper solutions.
- Excessive noise and vibration cause stress among themanufacturing workers. After the lockdown period, the management should renew their machine to reduce excessive noise and smooth the procedure to increase their productivity.
- The organization should protect all the staff from chronic stress and poor mental health by providing effective health insurance and regular checkup. The organization should give personal and protective equipment to all the employees.
- The organization should develop a better communication system between all the staff to manage the psychological hazards of the employees. There should a dedicated person from the management who would regularly communicate with the workers to understand about their feeds and problematic areas. It will help in reducing internal conflicts and increase employee satisfaction.
- In the Covid-19 pandemic situation, the workers are facing problem in normalizing their productivity after the lockdown situation(Dirani et al., 2020). The organization should be more flexible with the employees to increase their motivation and boost up energy. It will help to reduce psychological stress in workers.
3.2 Logical recommendations
- The workers, who have to work in the manufacturing industry are feared of joining their work for the contamination. The increasing spread of Covid-19 around the countries in the USA, UK and European region makes the production work restricted frequently. The problem is created from the increasing demand from the people during the lockdown period, which required various companies to resume their manufacturing process.
- For the safety of the manufacturing workers, the manufacturing company should provide PPE kit to the employees for maintaining their safety. They should moderate the workload of the newly joined employees and make the process easier to complete according to the regular schedule.
- They should rearrange the work schedule to avoid excess gathering of workers. Working in shifts should be introduced to avoid any unintentional gathering. The employees should be instructed to maintain 5 feet distance from their surrounded workers.
- The workers of the manufacturing company are stressed with their lower job security which makes them to face extreme psychological hazard. The company should inspire them to work better and not promote lay off during the pandemic situation.
- The ‘stay at home’ restriction after the pandemic has made the employees isolated and this harms their minds. The lack of money, regular issues home, and politics between the colleagues have made them depressed. They are becoming lazy and eventually ruining their productivity over the time. They should engage in virtual seminars or some activities in their home to pass the lockdown period with a fresh start.
- Not only that, the company should set difficult but attainable goals to make the workers striving to achieve them. It will encourage start fresh and aggressiveafter the lock period.
- The pandemic has created a global crisis that disrupted the market in various ways. The manufacturing company has faced a huge loss in productivity due to the restriction of human contact on the site(Bartsch et al., 2020). The organizations should adapt virtual work environment where the employees are separated physically but will be together with the help of technology.
3.3 Defendable recommendations
- The manufacturing company should change the work process of the employees to reduce psychological hazards. Mask should be mandatory in the office while working and physical touch should be avoided. All the employees should follow social distancing to not spread Covid-19.
- The manufacturing company should have a systematic understanding of knowledge that have created psychological hazards in the pandemic.It will help them in making effective planning to engage and motivate the workers like before after the lockdown.
- The policies at the workplacein the manufacturing industry should be updated as per the rules and regulations of COVID-19 and critically evaluate the impact on the employees.
- The workers are facing mental illness in the pandemic situation due to the high pressure of the job, lack of supervising, and without support from colleagues. These are the main cause of psychological illness in the minds of the employees due to the COVID-19 situation. The organization should supervise the work detail of the employees.
- The organization should ensure health and safety of the employees by arranging proper training. It will helpthe employees to mitigate stress and mental illness of the employees due to the pandemic situations.
- The employees of the manufacturing company have been facing issues regarding safety, risk of contagion, quarantine, social exclusion as well as financial loss, and job insecurity (Hamouche, 2020). The organization must work with human resources and health institutions to make a safety plan to prevent the risk of spreading the coronavirus in the organization.
- The organization needs to take steps to mitigate the mental illness of the employees. For this purpose, the employer should provide motivational videos, stories to help them to stay stress-free in the lockdown.
- They should strictly make a notice to wear a mask and carry hand sanitizer and wash hands at regular breaks (Cirrincione et al., 2020). Additionally, they should use protective devices whenever there is potentially close contact with a suspect case that can reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the workplace.
Furthermore, the organization faces a huge loss in productivity that puts increased pressure on managers and production workers as most of the employees do not want to come into the office as well as office-based staffs are afraid that the work cannot be productively done from home. The company should ensure them to make social distancing in the office.
It can be found that the organization is facing a challenging situation in COVID- 19, as productivity is not meeting the satisfaction level. The findings from the existing literature and market statistics showcased that a high number of manufacturing company faced financial loss from the lockdown situation. It has created a confusing situation among the manufacturing industry. It caused job loss and severe poverty among the daily wage workers in different factories. The lack of earning influenced mental and physical situation of a wide range of population involved in manufacturing industry.
The findings have argued in describing different prevention measures in the manufacturing industry. The maintenance of effective prevention measurement will help the workers to return and start their work safety at their workplace. It will regulate the production process at the manufacturing industry.The organizations have made strict rules and regulations of safety in the office to ensure the safety of its employees. It has updated its safety policies according to the WHO recommendations. Mask has been made mandatory in the office and physical touch should be avoided. A virtual working environment should be created where the employees can work together through technology.
- Studies found that WHO’s safety guideline on COVID 19 at the workplace contains a huge gap which is very dangerous (O’Neill, 2020). The employees of the manufacturing organization are not properly following the guidelines though it has been implemented. Sometimes, they are not wearing masks or not maintaining social distancing. For the staff that has to work on-site, sufficient PPE is not provided to them. Besides, the organization has cut their salary due to the company’s loss that is developing psychological illness among the employees.
- The mental stress among the workers has been increased due to job insecurity. They have become panic-stricken in the fear of job loss for the Covid-19. The organization should motivate them and improve the communication system between the workers to encourage them.
- The manufacturing industry has taken some steps to reduce the psychological illness of the employees. However, some additional steps should be taken to mitigate the mental hazards of the employees.
The current research is lacking in generating information from a wide range of source. The current assignment is restricted to the workers from manufacturing industry. Therefore, the current assignment lacks in generating over all experience at the working sector. On the other hand, the current assignment is based on existing literature and discussion on the internet. It can present various gaps as there were no human interaction has made during developing the current study.
In conclusion, it can be said that psychological hazards are the main issues in the workplace. The Covid-19 has increased the cased of psychological risk among the organizations. The manufacturing industry is related to associate works which faced restrictions after the lockdown situation. Being at home without any payment has made the manufacturing workers depressed and isolated. It is the responsibility of the organization to make advanced planning by determining future disasters like Covid-19. The workers should achieve insurance and health coverage from the organization they work for. The company should also recommend strategies to maintain the psychological factors among the manufacturing workers. Improved mental health will eventually result in better productivity and regularity at the workplace.
5.1 Message for the reader about Psychological Risk Factors in the workplace
Psychological risks in the workplace can occur because of job strain, lack of supervising, and without co-worker's supports. Due to the COVID-19 situation, employees of the workplace have faced mental issues. Imbalance in mental health can also fall an impact on the work ethics of the workplace. It can decrease the productivity of the workplace. The company should have an organized training program for the employees regarding mental well-being and how to cope with the tension in the workplace. The company should give importance to the employee’s health first and should create opportunities for everyone in the company.
Coronavirus Available at https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1 (Accessed: 08 January 2021)
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Fig 1: Psychological Hazards
Fig 2: Mental Stress
Fig 3: Resolve of Psychological Risks
Fig 4: Psychological Risks management process
Fig 5:HSE RISK MATRIX