Work Environment/Environmental Influences


On the one hand, social and cultural factors, which affect the work system are assigned to the work environment. On the other hand, the term “environment” means the spatially surrounding fields, from which physical and chemical, and in addition, biological (e.g., bacteriological) influences affect humans and their physical ability. The physical –chemical work environment can be differentiated according to the kind of influences it has on the working person:

  • Working materials
  • Radiation
  • Climate
  • Noise and sound
  • Mechanical vibrations
  • Lighting

On the basis of the fact that individual work environment factors rarely appear isolated, but in combination with each other a consideration of effects is only permissible for the entirety of all environment factors in combination with the work-specific types of stress. So far, these inter-relationships have remained widely unexplored so that in practice the consideration of effects for each individual variable of stress seems appropriate.

The following proceeding has proven useful for the analysis, evaluation, and design of single work environment factors :

1. Knowledge of the scientific bases

2. Measurement of the work environment variable

3. Evaluation of the results of measurement

4. Estimation and deducing rules

A condition for the measurement of the environmental influences is a realization of the physical and chemical, and (with noise, climate, and lighting) the physiological variables and regularities. If these scientific fundamentals are well-known, the quantitative value of individual environment variables can be identified with the help of specific measuring methods and devices. In the next step the question arises, which effects different levels of load (as a consequence of the variation of single environment variables) have on people. These effects can be the detriment of the working person, the influence of physiological variables, and, in addition, the influence of the person’s feelings or the work behavior (e.g., error frequency). Furthermore, the factors and individual characteristics of the working person on which the effects depend must be indicated. In the sense of the stress-strain-concept the goal of this step is to indicate the strain and/or detriment associated with the environmental load.

 If sufficient knowledge is available, desired or limit values for the single environment variables can be derived in a fourth step, in order to estimate the endangerments and strains of environmental load. In each case, these values are coupled with design goals. The goals, freedom from impairment and risk avoiding, are accepted for all environmental exposure. An avoidance of disturbance applies to substances (dirtiness, unpleasant odor), sound (noise), and electrical and magnetic fields, only concerning the population while they often are considered as substantially tolerable for the workforce.

Even if the inter-related effects of individual work environment factors are practically unexplored, a “bottleneck observation” seems adequate. First the influence of each load variable on working persons is evaluated and the specific organic system, which is loaded is identified. If the same organic system is loaded several times, a “bottleneck observation” should be made. This proceeding was applied successfully, for example, when climatic factors affect humans in connection with a high energetic load. Both load factors lead to an increased utilization of the cardiovascular system, which is to be regarded in this case as a shortage.

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