Interview • 04.11.2013

“Employers need to find and foster their employees’ optimum stress levels“

Iterview with Jörg Feldmann, German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)

Jörg Feldmann: To be able to keep healthy associates in the long run,...
Jörg Feldmann: 'To be able to keep healthy associates in the long run, employers need to conduct risk assessments and provide humane working conditions.'
Source: BAuA

Safety is king. Whether it’s at the end of 2013 at the A+A Trade Fair in Düsseldorf or in August 2014 at the Arbeitsschutz Aktuell Trade Fair in Frankfurt (“Occupational Safety Today“): occupational safety is and remains an important topic. In this iXtenso interview, Jörg Feldmann, Press Relations Officer at the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), talks about what is in store for occupational safety and health in the next few years.

Mr. Feldmann, the BAuA just published its current pamphlet “The Changing Work Environment“ with its focus on mental illnesses. What concerns today’s employees – what makes them ill?


In a nutshell, many employees talk about increasing demands in terms of knowledge, flexibility and workload. At the same time, we are observing an increase in work disability and early retirement due to mental disorders. In 2008, there were approximately 41 million sick days in Germany due to mental-health problems and diseases. In 2011, the number of days had increased to 59 million.

What’s more, the demographic change has also already arrived in the day-to-day business of many companies. Due to demographic aging of the workforce, there are new demands for occupational safety and health management. Because the retirement age has been increased, jobs need to be designed in an age-appropriate manner.

However, occupational accidents have decreased thanks to modern technology and improved work structuring. We have noticed that the number of accidents and commuting accidents are at a relatively low level. Even though every fifth disability is still based on musculoskeletal disorders, diseases due to mental–health problems are in fourth place. They have surpassed cardiovascular diseases as the cause of disability. This is quite a drastic increase. At the same time, in 2011, the number of early retirements due to mental-health problems ranked on top with approximately 70,000 cases.

What are the reasons for psychological stress?

Many employees are simply overloaded by time pressures and the amount of work or they have problems with the changed working conditions: constantly increasing demands, needing to be flexible, always needing to be available and the mentality that a wide variety of tasks has to be accomplished fast and at the same time. This along with increasing demands, having to constantly learn new things while facing job uncertainty can lead to stress. Company reorganizations and lack of support from superiors are yet other factors that can make people feel insecure and sick.

One retail study revealed that a permanent smile and the pressure to always be in a good mood and friendly also stress employees. In addition, statistics show that the work atmosphere in retail has become extreme. Employees need to increasingly be able to deal with unfriendly customers and verbal abuse. Thanks to increasing technolization, they also get the feeling of being constantly watched and that every mistake can be immediately discovered and criticized. Such factors can be causes for stress and illness.

Aside from mental risks, what are the physical hazards for retail employees?

Even though retail employees are sick below average, they often suffer from musculoskeletal disorders. Prolonged standing at work, one-sided strain and un-ergonomic checkout counter jobs are only some of the harmful factors.

What’s more, promotional measures are not necessarily healthy. Before a store introduces its sales strategies and lighting systems, a risk assessment must be conducted. After all, customers are only in the store for a very limited amount of time. Potential long-term damages to the store associates from fragrance testers, lighting or functional music have to be analyzed and excluded before you implement them.

What do the above-mentioned changes mean for present and future occupational safety and health?

To be able to keep healthy associates in the long run, employers need to conduct risk assessments and provide humane working conditions. People are healthier, when they are able to create and plan their work on their own to a certain degree and when they receive self-contained work. The support of supervisors and colleagues is also enormously important for the psyche. After all, people actually want to work. A meaningful and appreciated job is great for a healthy self-esteem.

Workstations continue to need to be designed ergonomically, for instance at the point of sale or by providing sit/stand stools. Protective clothing is also important in certain areas and industry sectors. Despite fewer accidents, there needs to be a sense of awareness for danger. Just because there are fewer accidents thanks to great technology doesn’t mean that safety measures should be neglected. However, employees must also utilize and embrace this support; otherwise, nobody is being protected.

A+A 2013 in Düsseldorf, Arbeitsschutz Aktuell 2014 in Frankfurt: what are the current trends in occupational safety and health?

The new trends are in ambient intelligence and assistance systems. Intelligent protective clothing is also a topic. In one project, we tested intelligent protective clothing for firefighters, which measures the blood oxygen content or heartbeat and pulse for instance. This way, the textiles can signal danger, before the person himself/herself is aware of it.

Last but not least: what assistance does the BAuA provide?

As a federal research facility, we primarily consult the Federal Ministry of Labor. In addition, the BAuA also provides different solutions and guidance. You can find assistance on our Internet webpage on a variety of topics such as risk assessment, work organization and shift schedules or workplace ergonomics.

The interview was conducted by Elisabeth Henning; iXtenso.com

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Toshiba Launches New ELERA™ Security Suite to Address the Industry’s...
22.09.2023   #cashpoints #customer experience

Toshiba Launches New ELERA™ Security Suite to Address the Industry’s Challenges Around Shrink

Toshiba’s A.I.-powered solution empowers retailers across the globe to better manage loss prevention and protect profits

Security Suite from Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions empowers retailers to minimize shrink...

Thumbnail-Photo: Nedap teams with Foot Locker to extend RFID project...
05.10.2023   #omnichannel #software applications

Nedap teams with Foot Locker to extend RFID project

Foot Locker successfully matches supply and demand in newly opened stores in Eastern Europe using RFID technology

Nedap the global leader in RFID solutions, announces that multi-brand sports fashion and apparel retailer Foot Locker has successfully extended Nedap iD Cloud to its new, Eastern European stores. The objective is to offer the best possible ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The global state of autonomous stores
18.12.2023   #Tech in Retail #self-checkout systems

The global state of autonomous stores

The stores are located in various retail segments such as food retail, fashion, electronics, convenience stores and fast food.

In a highly competitive global retail landscape, autonomous stores are an emerging force that addresses changing consumer behaviors, reduces operational costs, improves profitability, and powers revenue growth strategies. Advancements in autonomous ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Unified Commerce Platform in focus
24.10.2023   #omnichannel #software developement

Unified Commerce Platform in focus

Handover at REMIRA: Dirk Bingler supersedes Stephan Unser as CEO

REMIRA is setting the course for future development of the company: On November 1, Dirk Bingler (48) will become the new CEO of the supply chain and omnichannel software expert headquartered in Dortmund. The previous CEO Stephan Unser (62) moves to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Ask the Bot: generative AI in retail
02.01.2024   #Tech in Retail #food retail

Ask the Bot: generative AI in retail

Revolution in retail: the era of generative AI and AI bots

They are able to analyse data, write product descriptions, answer shoppers’ questions or write codes...

Thumbnail-Photo: Out of Stock in Retail and innovative solutions to avoid them...
07.11.2023   #brick and mortar retail #customer satisfaction

Out of Stock in Retail and innovative solutions to avoid them

Due to various events, the availability of goods in retail will be increasingly restricted from 2022, with the result that customers cannot find in food retail the products they wish to buy, because those products are sold out, are temporarily ...

Thumbnail-Photo: MPREIS Transforms Operations with Zebra Workcloud Task Management™...
06.11.2023   #customer experience #software developement

MPREIS Transforms Operations with Zebra Workcloud Task Management™ Software Solution

Austrian food retailer to streamline communication in around 300 stores to improve staff engagement, inventory optimisation, and customer satisfaction

MPREIS has around 300 Austrian stores in regions across Tyrol...

Thumbnail-Photo: EuroCIS 2024 - technology special
11.12.2023   #online trading #e-commerce

EuroCIS 2024 - technology special

The latest technology solutions and trends for you and the retail sector

At EuroCIS 2022 from February 27 to 29, 2024, the Leading Trade Fair for Retail Technology, we will be looking at all the important and current topics relating to technology in retail: AI and Machine Learning, Payment, Connected Retail, Seamless Store and Smart Energy Management and many more.

Thumbnail-Photo: New German vending partner for ITL
30.11.2023   #Tech in Retail #cash management

New German vending partner for ITL

Innovative Technology (ITL) have recently announced Bernd Boddart as their latest trading partner

Bernd Boddart will be supplying their cash validation and biometric age verification solutions to the German vending market. Bernd Boddart, based in Mönchengladbach, Germany, have 30 years of experience in the field of coffee machines, table ...

Thumbnail-Photo: EuroCIS 2024: Go beyond today!
16.10.2023   #retail #Tech in Retail

EuroCIS 2024: Go beyond today!

27 to 29 February 2024 will see the Who’s Who of Europe’s retail technology sector meet in Düsseldorf

Go beyond today! EuroCIS at the end of February will once again show solutions and products for the retail of the future @Messe DüsseldorfIn late February, numerous companies will again exhibit solutions and products for retailers to shape and ...

Supplier

Innovative Technology Ltd.
Innovative Technology Ltd.
Innovative Business Park
OL1 4EQ Oldham
Captana GmbH
Captana GmbH
Bundesstraße 16
77955 Ettenheim
REMIRA Group GmbH
REMIRA Group GmbH
Phoenixplatz 2
44263 Dortmund
Zebra Technologies Germany GmbH
Zebra Technologies Germany GmbH
Ernst-Dietrich-Platz 2
40882 Ratingen