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The Influence of Repetitive Work on Workers

Under conditions of productive forces growth and the relations of production, there are increased requirements to thinking, perception, attention, and the emotional state of the worker, which in turn have a significant impact on capacity for work. Efficiency is a person’s ability to form and maintain a body in working condition to ensure high productivity.Therefore, the issues of work organization are solved comprehensively taking into account the technological, economic, physiological, and psychological knowledge in the field of labor.The main character in the sphere of social production is a person with the complex psycho-physiological functions, a variety of abilities, mood swings, emotions, and feelings. Human performance is influenced by various environmental factors, which often have an adverse effect of varying intensity and duration. In the process of labor, there is a regular change in the functional state of the human body including of the central nervous system. Work can temper workers. However, it may also lead to depletion of the nervous system as a result of fatigue and muscle atrophy. Repetitive work is an extremely important factor that has a highly negative effect on work performance. The purpose of the paper is to study the influence of repetitive work on employees.

During work, a person experiences different feelings and emotions from happiness and satisfaction to fatigue and depression. In the course of activity, in addition to the state of fatigue, a condition of monotony occurs. It has a negative effect on the mental state of the person and performance. Historically, repetitive work attracted the most attention of psychologists. It was facilitated by the spread of assembly-line labor with the monotony of working operations, poverty, education, and the experience of “psychological vacuum” in the minds of workers on the assembly line. These days, modern scientists also pay great attention to the study of monotone and repetitive types of labor. It is associated with the fact that a number of workers engaged in this activity are growing steadily. The meaning of problems of repetitive work increases with the advent of monotonous sensory-intellectual activity. The acuteness of such a problem lies not only in productivity reduction and an increase in accidents but also in personality changes leading to conflicts at work and at home. Thus, repetitive work negatively affects the production efficiency. It deteriorates economic indicators, increases injuries, accidents, and staff turnover.

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Repetitive work is characterized by slow, monotonous, and simple in structure and rhythmic actions that require small costs of muscle and nervous energy. It does not require much attention. Repetitive work is characterized by low richness of content and performed with limited human mobility.This work causes the state of monotony in the body, which is reinforced by monotonous and weak influences such as noise and vibration. As a result, repetitive work increases the likelihood of erroneous actions of the person in work.At the same time, during monotonous work that is defined by its high pace, the worker must repeat rather simple movements at regular intervals. Therefore, a person is often forced to maintain a monotonous working posture. In the book Handbook of Occupational Safety and Health, it is noted that “most performed works, especially repetitive ones, involve the upper limbs, often with a statistic load to the back” (Koradecka 493). As a result of such work, an employee quickly loses efficiency, which is expressed in the increase of time spent on the implementation of certain operations. This fact indicates on the occurrence of general fatigue.

There are several main symptoms of repetitive work. The first one includes a small element of composition – structural uniformity and simplicity of labor actions. The next symptom is the minor length of labor operations and activities of the same type. The last factor includes high repeatability of labor operations and activities in the unit time.

Researches in the field of differential psychology have made a great contribution in the study of monotonous activity. Specialists in this field have proved the role of typological features of the person in the resistance to repetitive work and the development of the condition of monotony.As a result of these studies, it was revealed that the state of monotony rapidly evolves and is more pronounced in individuals with a strong nervous system as compared with people with a weak nervous system. More resistant to monotony are people with the inertia of the nervous processes. These typological features form complex typological stability to monotony. Opposing typological features such as a strong nervous system, the mobility of the nervous processes, and others do not contribute to the stability of monotony.

There are several types of repetitive work. The first one is conveyer work produced in a given pace and rhythm, where simple elements that are short on execution time are repeated many times in a certain sequence during a work shift, weeks, months, and sometimes even years.The next group includes work performed in free tempo and rhythm on the machines, vending machines, and semi-automatic machines. However, repetitive work is not reduced only to vending machines. It also includes sedentary work and other activity where a person performs the same actions day after day.

Repetitive work has a highly negative effect on the psychological state of the person. It should be noted that in the central nervous system, there are special neurons that detect fading properties of reactions or habituation. They are located in the cerebral cortex. However, most of these neurons are located in the reticular formation. It was shown that the majority of cells of the reticular formation have the property of fast habituation to repetitive stimulation. Under the influence of frequent and monotonous repetitive stimulation, the neuron of the cerebral cortex of the brain comes to an inhibitory state and sleep comes in the propagation of the inhibitory process throughout the cerebral cortex in humans.This fact suggests that the greater the number of fast changing and various influences the slower the scope of brain structures by the braking process will be. In such a way, there is a complex of facts giving rise to associate the occurrence of braking (a reduced level of activation) of cortical centers with decrease of reactivity of the non-specific structures of the reticular formation and, consequently, decrease in the activating effect on the cerebral cortex. Scientists have an extremely negative attitude to repetitive work. They point to worsening of EEG, decrease of the sugar level in blood, aversion to work, and lethargy till the end of the working day.

Human performance declines when performing monotonous work representing the repetition of monotonous labor actions and movements. Monotonous work is realized by a small number of nerve cells in the low tone of the most part of the brain because of the monotony of stimuli. Limited groups of nerve centers do not have time to fill the consumption of energy resources and, thus, fatigue develops. Monotonous activity leads to the development of such a condition as a mental satiety, which is the opposite of monotony in its characteristics. Therefore, instead of apathy and boredom, workers experience irritation, aversion to work, and even aggressiveness. The analysis of these cases has shown that the mental state of satiation appears in people with a weak nervous system.Boredom and the associated state of monotony is the opposite of emotional stress.

Therefore, it should be noted that the influence of monotonous work on the body of the worker is quite complex and varied.It was found that repetitive work causes primarily changes in the functional state of the central nervous system manifesting in the lengthening of the latent period of the simple and complex hand-eye reaction, increasing of the percentage of disinhibited differentiation, slowing of the ability to switch attention, and decreasing mobility of the basic nervous processes.When a person performs repetitive work, a kind of working neuro-physiological conflict arises. On the one hand, there is boring monotonous work, which leads to a progressive decrease in the activity of various central nervous system structures. On the other hand, work should be performed without prejudice to the quantity and quality of products. All these facts reinforce the nervous tension caused by the need to strong-willed maintenance of wakefulness and performance at a certain level.

Repetitive work leads to a change on the part of various autonomic functions. During such an operation, a heart rate decreases by 30% (Bambra 105). Blood pressure decreases by 5 -10% (Bambra 105). On the contrary, the coefficient of variation of heart rate increases. Thus, repetitive work leads to the significant reduction in tonic activity of the sympathetic nervous system and extends the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. Such work complicated by nervous tension arising at a high degree of responsibility with the elements of risk for life leads to changes in physiological functions. The depth and severity of which is greater, the greater the tension and the degree of responsibility for work.When a person performs repetitive work, which is not complicated by nervous tension, the major changes are recorded in the functional state of the central nervous system. Nevertheless, when the same work is performed, which is complicated by nervous tension, the central nervous system remains relatively stable during the changes. However, the major changes are observed in the state of the cardiovascular system.

These days, there are many jobs where a worker sits most of time. As it was already mentioned, it also has an extremely negative effect on the employee. Prolonged sitting can have a devastating effect on the nervous system in general and the brain in particular. It can be manifested in the mental disorders associated with the states of depression and anxiety. In the bookContemporary Issues in Business Ethics, it is stated that “repetitive work causes worker alienation” (DesJardins and McCall 197). Inactive, sedentary, and repetitive work at the same place has an extremely negative impact on the human psyche. It should be noted that men have a greater tendency to sedentary work than women. However, the link between depression and sedentary work is more notable among women. In the book Mental and Neurological Public Health, it is noted that “furthermore, women generally report more sleeping problems than men” (Patel, Woodward, Feigin, Quah, and Heggenhougen 503).  It is also associated with repetitive work. Besides, depression and anxiety may be so deep that even enhanced training in the gym cannot remove stress accumulated during the day. These workers are much more likely to exhibit deviations from the stable emotional state. As a solution to this problem, it is necessary to arrange breaks from work and from a sitting position. In the book Introduction to Health and Safety at Work, it is affirmed that “monotonous work should be reduced where it is reasonable to do so” (Hughes and Ferrett 114). If it is not possible, employees should try to get out into the fresh air and do at least the minimum gymnastic exercises in the workplace.

The psyche of people reacts differently to monotonous and repetitive work. In some employees that perform monotonous work, it causes boredom and fatigue. In other people, these symptoms are less pronounced. According to the research, the fewest possible elements of the operation include not less than five. To avoid monotony of labor, there are several standard measures. The first one includes rational distribution of job responsibilities among employees. The second standard is alternation of workers in repetitive operations. The use of variable rate and pace of work and implementation of appropriate modes of work and rest are also rather useful. One more standard is the use of functional music. Many employers use effective incentive systems of labor.

Even animals instinctively avoid monotonous environment. A rat, for example, prefers to use different paths to find food in the labyrinth. An animal tends to leave space where it has spent much time and actively seeks new or less-studied areas. This fact shows that the desire for diversity of experiences is an important biological need not only for people but also for animals.

Labor activity plays a crucial role in human life. The existence of a person and society depends on work. One of the most significant factors affecting the success of work is a style of activity and its relationship with a psycho-physiological state of the person.Satisfaction with work and work motivation are considered as greatly important human resources in organizations. Frequently, a person is not satisfied with work. It is associated with the fact that these days, many professions are highly monotonous. Repetitive work has an extremely negative effect on the person. It influences health and work performance of employees.

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