Frequent and rapid changes in workplaces around the world to control the coronavirus pandemic have the potential to harm the mental wellbeing of millions of people. Prior to the pandemic, mental health was a significant workplace issue and there will be significant increases in mental health issues due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, there are steps that employers can take to promote mental wellbeing in the workplace and this article outlines what organisations can do to create a mentally healthy workplace, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 and mental wellbeing
Governments and the media have provided information on how to stay physically safe during the pandemic, but guidance on looking after our mental wellbeing has been less visible. Unfortunately, the actions taken to stay physically safe, such as isolation and physical distancing, may be having a harmful effect on our mental health. Research on previous disasters shows that they create a long shadow of mental health issues, trailing the disaster by months or years. Although vaccines are available for the coronavirus, there is no vaccine to support mental wellbeing. In addition to the effects on individuals, mental health issues can have a significant impact on human reliability in the workplace. This article provides eight tips to maintain or improve your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19: Safe to fly again?
During the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 64% of the global aircraft fleet was in storage (around 17000 aircraft) and tens of thousands of pilots were also grounded for many months. The human factors implications are significant. This article explores, through the lens of selected human factors topics, some of the challenges airlines face as they resume commercial flights. To illustrate these challenges, I explore recent incidents. The approach taken in this article may be helpful for organisations restarting activities, or making changes to activities, following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Measuring workload: There’s an App for that
Measuring the workload that people experience is important, because subjective workload has an impact on human performance. A high workload eats into our limited mental resources and can lead to errors, near-misses and incidents. Workload is often measured by the resources available (such as nurse-to-patient staffing ratios), but workload is experienced differently by different people. For example, two nurses assigned to the same number of patients in the same Intensive Care Unit may experience workload differently due to the stability and complexity of their patients. Therefore, a subjective measure of workload can provide helpful insights beyond traditional measures such as staffing ratios. One of the most common measures of subjective workload developed by the NASA Human Performance Group is now available as an App and can be applied in any industry.
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