Blog Post #699 – Hypertension – Low Job Control Linked

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

A feeling of helplessness and low control over one’s work environment and conditions has been linked to hypertension in men but not women, a new study has found.

Study by the Institute of Work and Health (IWH) in Toronto, published in the January/February issue of Canadian Journal of Public Health, looked at more than 6,600 workers aged between 35 and 60 who had not been previously diagnosed with hypertension, were not self-employed and were working more than 10 hours a week for more than 20 weeks in the last year.

“Our interest in this particular piece of work was to look at a group of working-age residents of Ontario to see if there is any risk associated with the characteristic of employment called job control and the progression in the development of hypertension,” says Cam Mustard, IWH Pres. and Senior scientist. “We might not often think of the onset of hypertension is a work-related condition.”

Using records of health care utilization, researchers followed workers over nine-year. And found out about 20% of men and 18% of women developed hypertension.

Among the group of men who reported low job control, 27% were diagnosed with hypertension, while only 18% of those who indicated high job control were diagnosed with the condition. The number of cases were hypertension could be attributed to low job control was second only to obesity and trumped smoking, drinking, lack of exercise and inadequate consumption of fruits and vegetables.

“Primary prevention programs to reduce hypertension are largely aimed at changing unhealthy behaviours,” IWH scientists and research lead Dr. Peter Smith says in a statement. “But the study suggest that prevention strategies might also assess the potential for modifying work environments as a hypertension control intervention.”

However, Mustard notes that it is not clear how low job control can be reduced in a way that would have an impact on the incidence of hypertension.

Instances of low job control had no impact on women with regards to cases of hypertension, although more women were in the lowest job control category.

My opinion

There have been reports, recently, that have included stress as a growing hazard in the workplace. In fact, it will be listed as the number two killer on the job over the next 10 years.

You will be surprised to find out that countries like Germany and Australia already realize the undue pressure workers are under. Both of these countries make it mandatory that workers take anywhere to 6 to 8 weeks off a year’s holiday time where Canada and United States barely allow for 2. The stress on a worker doesn’t seem to be a high priority for most companies in North America.

The government Ontario has deemed hypertension and other stress related issues high enough on the pecking order to be included in possible hazard control measures. Ensure your company can identify stress-related issues in your workplace so that you can assess the issues and offer work-related hazard controls.

Please be aware stress is a real hazard and must be controlled. Workers may show some of the following symptoms;

1) Irritability;
2) Gastrointestinal issues;
3) Absenteeism; and
4) Become argumentative and distracted to the point where they are a possible danger to themselves, or others on the job.

As an employer, you must be aware this does exist. If you do not, and a worker is hurt or killed, your company may be held totally responsible. Do not become just another fact coming from the MOL’s ‘Newsroom’. Keep your employees safe.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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