Incident Prevention Magazine

Hubert Hayes, CHST, CUSP, MESH

Managing Stress in the Workplace

I’ve worked in the electrical industry for more than 40 years, and the work has pretty much stayed the same. We set poles and towers, string conductor, build stations, dig trenches and install conductor in the ground the same way we did years ago, aside from some new tools and technology that have been introduced. The weather conditions we faced back then are pretty much the same, although maybe it’s a little warmer now. And we still get called out to work at all hours of the day and night, weekends and holidays included.

Families are still intact and function the same way they always have. Your loved ones still miss you, need you and rely on you coming home every day, safe and sound. Companies have rules about employees being fit for duty that mainly focus on our physical fitness. For instance, are we clear of alcohol, drugs and anything else that would affect our ability to safely perform our duties? Are we well-rested, fed and hydrated? If we are switching from the day shift to the night shift, have our sleep patterns adjusted so we can be alert on the job?

Somewhere along the line, however, something has changed. The demands on our employees have increased significantly. More than ever, the work moves and so do our workforces, from state to state and region to region. Paperwork has increased, and some of it must be filled out daily or even hourly. On top of that, it’s likely a monthly recap – filled with information you’ve already turned in several times before – also is a requirement. Time constraints are getting greater and greater, with little to no ability to employ scheduled outages because the country revolves around their power staying on 24/7. In addition, as our most skilled employees are promoted to fill leadership roles, they face new pressures and challenges. And as those people are promoted, there is a smaller pool of qualified people willing to put sweat equity into a job that many of them view differently than we did years ago.

So, what is one major result of all these changes within our industry? Stress.    

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