Complaints are often heard over increasing stressors at the workplace. However, in one sense the working population today are better off than the working population of the past: on average, they are exposed to
less physical strain. In areas were once heavy physical labour was required, technical aids are now available; the risk of accidents is significantly reduced, the work hours are generally shorter, the recuperation longer. Nevertheless, even today many employees have work which entails a great amount of physical stress. In 2018 the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB) and the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin, BAuA) surveyed the kind and extent of stress factors and environmental influences with which employees are confronted, linking this to earlier studies.
From an occupational health perspective, a frequent change between standing and sitting work positions would be advantageous. In many professions (e.g. construction, metal work, landscaping, in food services and in the cleaning business) employees have to perform their work in a standing position. For 54% of the surveyed this is often the case. 39% have to perform fast, skilled or heavy manual work; 25% have to endure noise and 23% often have to move heavy loads. Work is especially physically burdensome when working in a strained position, i.e. bent over, squatting, kneeling or in a horizontal position or performing work overhead – for 17% these are the everyday work conditions. However, there are further working conditions which are uncomfortable or even detrimental to health. This includes, e.g., working in the cold, moisture, heat, draught or in an environment polluted by smoke, dust, oil or dirt. Dealing with microorganisms is associated with risks and requires constant vigilance. Glaring light or insufficient lighting can also encumber work.
The objectively given difficulties are, to a certain degree, viewed by the workers as a normal part of their work. Certain work and environmental conditions are also subjectively experienced as burdensome. Thus, respectively more than half of the employees who were exposed to smoke, gases, dust and fumes, poor light conditions, cold, heat, moisture or draught and noise or disturbing sounds found these to be burdensome. Heavy lifting or strained positions also burdened about every second at the workplace.