TORONTO — Providing adequate workplace COVID-19 protection is linked to better mental health among workers, according to a pair of studies conducted by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) and the Institute for Work and Health (IWH).
The newest of the two studies, published recently in the Annals of Work Exposures and Health, found Canadian workers who continued to work onsite in the spring of 2020 reported high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms when they felt they had none of the coronavirus protection they needed, indicates a release, adding anxiety symptoms were lowest among people who felt protected at their worksites, with about a third meeting the criteria for anxiety.
People who felt fully protected at their worksites had similar or even slightly better mental health compared to people who worked from home. People who felt entirely unprotected at work had even poorer mental health than people who had lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic.
The new study is based on an online survey completed in April to early June 2020 by more than 3,500 Canadians who worked outside the health care sector.
The two studies were based on online surveys distributed by OHCOW through social media channels and labour networks. The surveys asked workers to identify the PPE and infection control procedures they needed at work and to what extent the needed protections were available.
“The mental well-being of Canadian workers is a concern in this pandemic. Our study suggests one way workplaces can improve employee mental health is to help them feel safe from COVID when they are at work,” said IWH senior scientist Dr. Peter Smith and lead author of the study in a statement.