Swiss workers face increased physical risks

Swiss workers face increased physical risks
Physical and mental risks at work can lead to ill health. Photo: Christopher Meredith
More than half of employed people in Switzerland are exposed to physical risks in the workplace, ten percent more than five years previously, according to figures released by the Federal Statistics Office this week.

The Swiss Health Survey 2012, which assessed the impact of employment on mental and physical well-being, found that 52 percent of working people between 15 and 64 years old were exposed to at least three physical risk factors such as carrying heavy loads (33 percent), loud noise (25 percent) and toxic products (22 percent).

The figure, which marks a ten percent rise on 2007, relates mostly to those working in agriculture (87 percent) and construction (79 percent), although physical risks were also found in the service industries, transport, commerce and health and social work.

These people were two and a half times more likely to report a generally bad state of physical health compared to those who were not exposed to such risks.

As for mental health, the number of people fearing they will lose their job had not increased since 2007, remaining at 13 percent.

Such people are twice as likely to report psychological distress than those who feel secure in their jobs, according to the survey.

The survey also found that 46 percent of employed people in 2012 spent three quarters of their time or more working under significant pressure, a known risk factor for mental distress.

A lack of autonomy at work, another factor contributing to psychological problems, was found to affect more women than men in 2012 (37 percent versus 29 percent).

The survey also found that 19 percent of women and 16 percent of men had suffered discrimination or violence at work in 2012, such as intimidation, harassment and verbal abuse.

A total of 11,157 Swiss residents took part in the survey, both employed and self-employed.

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