Ergonomic stress levels, personal characteristics, accident occurrence and sickness absence among factory workers

S. Melamed, J. Luz, T. Najenson, E. Jucha, M. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study was designed to evaluate the association of a single, integrated measure of simultaneous exposure to a number of adverse work and environmental conditions, termed the Ergonomic Stress Level (E-S-L), on workers' accident and sickness absence rates. The factors determining the E-S-L were body motion and posture, physical effort, active hazards and environmental stressors. E-S-L evaluation was based on ‘walk-through’ hazard inventories, direct observations, measurements and interviews. Workers were assigned to one of four stress levels ranging from low (A) to high (D). Subjects were 729 males, aged 20-67 years, employed in five factories in Israel. A linear relationship between E-S-L and accident incidence was found, increasing from the lowest to the highest E-S-L. Moreover, workers more sensitive to environmental stressors, as indicated by their reported subjective annoyance, showed higher accident rates across all the ergonomic stress levels, a tendency which was statistically significant at levels C and D. On the other hand, sickness absence was significantly related to the overall subjective stress experienced, as manifested by reported job dissatisfaction and somatic complaints, and not directly to E-S-L. These findings highlight the role of aggregate work stress, coupled with individual sensitivity to environmental stressors, in increasing the risk of accidents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1101-1110
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Accidents
  • Aggregate exposure
  • Environmental stress
  • Individual sensitivity
  • Sickness absence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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