Survey: U.S. working conditions taxing, but also friendly

A Rand Corporation survey released this week sheds light on working conditions in the United States, and results are mixed.

On one hand, significant numbers of respondents reported physically taxing, unpleasant and potentially hazardous conditions. On the other hand, most reported positive feelings toward their bosses and colleagues.

The report is based on a nationally representative sample of participants in the American Working Conditions Survey, fielded in 2015.

The bad news: Workers report physical exertion, safety hazards

According to the report:

  • 60 percent of respondents reported engaging in one or more of the following activities: moving heavy loads or people at least 25 percent of the time, maintaining tiring or painful positions at least 25 percent of the time or standing almost all or all of the time
  • 75 percent reported using repetitive hand/arm movements at least 25 percent of the time
  • 44 percent reported sitting all or almost all of the time
  • 55 percent reported exposure to at least one unpleasant and potentially hazardous working condition such as vibrations from hand tools or machinery; loud noise; extreme temperatures; breathing in fumes, smoke, powder or dust; handling chemicals or handling infectious materials
  • 20 percent reported experiencing some form of hostility at work such as verbal abuse, threats, humiliation, unwanted sexual attention, bullying, harassment or physical violence
  • 66 percent reported working at high speeds, tight deadlines or both at least half the time

Nearly all of these conditions can increase the risk of work injuries. For a big-picture look, read our past blog post: Four signs that you genuinely value workplace safety.

The good news about U.S. working conditions

It wasn’t all bad! Most respondents reported supportive social conditions at work.

According to the report:

  • 58 percent of respondents said they have a supportive boss
  • 78 percent said they like and respect their colleagues
  • 78 percent said they have good cooperation with their colleagues
  • 57 percent said conflicts are resolved fairly

This is good news since research shows that workplace friendships generate employee satisfaction, and employee happiness at work contributes to higher productivity.

If a work injury does occur, good working relationships between managers and employees are especially important.

For more details on the survey, visit the Rand Corporation website .

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