Tag Archives: Psychosocial Factors

Flexible working practices – helping to make work good for us


Victoria Weale, a staff member and PhD student in the Centre for Ergonomics, Safety and Health was the recent winner of the Three Minute Thesis competition at the International Ergonomics Association Triennial Congress. Congratulations Victoria!

Victoria says:

“My research looks at work life balance and its effects on the health and wellbeing of workers in residential aged care. Addressing imbalances can create work that is good for us by enhancing workers’ health and wellbeing. This can aid recruitment and retention of people into this essential, growing sector.”

Below is the script from her winning presentation:

Work life balance. If you work, it’s probably on your mind. How much you’re working, and how it’s affecting you and those around you. With changes in technology and the pressure to do more at work, it’s one of the pressing issues of our time.

My research is looking at work life balance and its effects on the health and wellbeing of workers in residential aged care. This is a growing industry sector because as a nation, we’re getting older. We want our loved ones, and ourselves, to be cared for by people who are healthy, and enjoy and are committed to their work. But as the population ages, this sector will need more workers, and how can we encourage people into this physically and emotionally demanding work, and then make them want to stay there?

We know that work can be good or bad for our health, so, we want to strive towards work that enhances workers’ health and wellbeing. This can result in huge positive impacts, not just for the worker, but also for their family and society.

The use of flexible work practices that support employees to achieve a good work life balance is one way to ensure that the work is good work, which can improve people’s health and welling. My research will identify the flexible work practices that are used in residential aged care and examine the relationships between work life balance and outcomes such as health, job satisfaction, and other indicators of wellbeing.

So far I’ve found that whilst there are lots of challenges for staff working in this sector, there are also many positives, such as the fact that many workers have significant control over the number of hours they work, and when they work them. This flexibility is highly valued by staff as it allows them to combine work with their important non-work activities, which for some people, enables them to participate in the workforce.

The next step is to analyse questionnaire data, and I’m expecting to see relationships between work life balance and indicators of health and wellbeing.

The results of my work can be used to inform policy relating to the use of flexible working practices, so that for these essential care workers, the load is lightened and difficult work is made better. By designing work to enhance workers’ health and wellbeing, people will want to come into the sector and stay there. Surely this should be a priority for us all, as it’s these hard working men and women who will to look after us and our loved ones in our last few years of life.


Oluyomi Oluranti Omibiyi_17953172_assignsubmission_file_IMG_1981

The use of skin lightening or skin bleaching creams is fuelled by the believe that women with light skin tones have a better life—better grades, better boyfriends, better job opportunities. The general view is that these women are treated better by society in every way. What is not spoken about and publicised is the effect of the cream on the health and skin of the individual.

Skin lightening or bleaching is defined as the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by lessening or inhibiting the concentration of melanin. Some creams contain hydroquinone and mercury which has been found to have adverse effect on the skin and health of the user. Though the use of both chemicals has been banned in many countries, buying from the internet and some unregulated stores are very common.

The long term effect of hydroquinone and mercury on the skin includes:

  • permanent skin bleaching and  thinning of skin
  • uneven colour loss, leading to a blotchy appearance
  • redness, rashes and scarring
  • Kidney damage
  • Skin cancer

A ban on the use of skin lightening creams by the government will help to eradicate the use of these creams. Secondly, educating and providing information of the effect of these chemicals might help to reduce the use of the creams. Another control could be the compulsory labelling of all products clearly stating the ingredients in it and making the packaging less attractive.

Oluyomi Oluranti Omibiyi_17953172_assignsubmission_file_IMG_1984

For further reading





New publications from the Centre for Ergonomics, Safety and Health

Dr Jodi Oakman, Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Ergonomics, Safety and Health, has recently had two articles published. Jodi’s research considers different industry sectors in relation to the prediction and risk management of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). Risk factors such as physical and psychosocial hazards are considered as predictors for WMSDs. The publications provide support for new approaches to more systematic WMSD risk management, including the use of a ‘toolkit’ to assist organisations to identify and address the most relevant WMSD risks in their workplaces.

For some holiday reading, Jodi’s publications are listed:

Oakman, J. & Chan, S. (2015). Risk Management: Where should we target strategies to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders? Safety Science. 73 (March ) 99-105. http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1QAmB3IVV9MWh6

Oakman, J., Macdonald, W., & Wells, Y. (2014). The need for change: Evidence to support a more comprehensive approach to risk management of musculoskeletal disorders in non-nursing employees sector. Applied Ergonomics, 45 (6) 1634-1640. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687014001033

Presentations from researchers from The Netherlands- Roos Schelvis

Roos Schelvis (Health Psychologist)

Bottom-up innovation in vocational education: design and process lessons

The aim of the Bottom-up Innovation project is to increase vitality and decrease need for recovery in teachers of two Dutch vocational schools, by implementing a participatory, primary preventive and organizational level occupational health intervention. The design of the project as well as some results of the implementation process will be discussed.

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness” stated American psychotherapist Richard Carlson. Set aside the bluntness of the statement I found some truth in it. In my work as a research scientist at the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, I aim to make work-related stress more ‘unacceptable’ for employers, employees, social partners and policy makers. My projectwork ranges from developing a definition for ‘work stress’ with social partners, to designing an agression prevention tool that makes the primary organizational process safer, till evaluating an intervention on happy and healthy working for employees in vocational education. For the last named project I’m affiliated to VU University Medical Centre Amsterdam and Twente University as a PhD candidate.


New book

Jodi has been involved in a book that has just been released:


Psychosocial Factors at Work in the Asia Pacific

The concept of the book emerged from the expert meetings of the Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work, of which the Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors at La Trobe has been attending. One of the aims of the book was to gain a better understanding of workplace psychosocial issues across the region- the book is certainly an eye opener in this respect. Another aim was to increase academic links across the region.The book features inputs from 30 academics with 26 from the Asia Pacific (Japan (6), Australia (11), China (1), South Korea (1), Malaysia (6), and New Zealand (1)). There are additional international contributions from Germany (3) and Belgium (1).

For more information: http://www.springer.com/psychology/personality+%26+social+psychology/book/978-94-017-8974-5