Work environment issues of Swedish office workers: a union perspective.
Human Aspects in Office Automation, Elsevier Series in Office Automation, No. 1. Cohen BGF, ed., New York: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1984 May; :127-141
The work environment issues of Swedish office workers are discussed. In 1970, a study at the Stockholm University of Technology identified ten factors most likely to cause or contribute to the troublesome nature of jobs. Among these, taxing static muscular workload, high sensory demands, and machine paced time patterns were the top three. A breakdown of official 1980 Swedish statistics on occupational diseases revealed ergonomic factors to be the most predominant cause of occupational diseases, accounting for approximately 53 percent of cases. A questionnaire survey of Central Organization of Salaried Employees in Sweden (TCO) members resulted in the adoption of a new Swedish Work Environment Act in 1977, which made provisions for providing a satisfactory working environment, adapting working conditions to human physical and mental aptitudes, and allowing employees to influence their own working situation. Analysis of TCO data showed that high job demands were associated with increased frequency of ill health symptoms, and that this relationship was amplified by job Taylorization. Office automation resulted in the introduction of increasing numbers of chemicals into offices; of particular concern were mutagenic chemicals used in copying and printing machines. A pamphlet produced by TCO on carbonless copying paper, found to cause skin and eye irritation, was instrumental in reducing or eliminating the use of such paper at many workplaces. The special concerns related to the operation of video display terminals are also discussed. The author concludes that office automation does not necessarily result in improved working conditions, and emphasizes the importance of worker participation in systems design.
Office-workers; Workplace-studies; Questionnaires; Job-stress; Ergonomics; Occupational-diseases; Muscle-stress; Computer-equipment; Mutagens; Eye-irritants; Skin-irritants
Book or book chapter
Human Aspects in Office Automation, Elsevier Series in Office Automation, No. 1