Reducing Work Stress and Improving Workplace Safety

Reducing Work Stress and Improving Workplace Safety
Case Study: Application of occupational health psychology theories and evidence-based interventions to reduce work stress and improve workplace safety


Since 2014, researchers from Lingnan’s Department of Applied Psychology have used occupational health psychology theories and practices to conduct empirical research to reduce stress caused by work and improve safety in Hong Kong.


Teaching the teachers
To enhance classroom strategies of school teachers, researchers conducted three training programmes with 107 teachers from 2014 to 2016. As a result of the programmes, teachers reported fewer physical and psychological complaints, less emotional exhaustion, and more confidence in handling critical incidents after training. A follow-up survey revealed that most of the teachers applied theories and practices they had learned to their teaching, shared them with colleagues, and recommended Lingnan’s training programme to others.


In 2017 Prof Siu Oi-ling, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University, was awarded a grant by OSHC to estimate the social and economic costs of occupational stress in Hong Kong. The study adopted a mixed-method approach, including in-depth interviews and surveys of 2,032 employees to evaluate occupational stress and its influence on local employees.


Social costs of occupational stress
A total of 2,032 valid questionnaires were returned from 2,511 employees. The results showed that occupational stress had a significant negative impact on employees' physical and psychological health, family, and work. Findings have alerted hundreds of companies and thousands of employees to the importance of stress management and stress intervention.


Millions of MTR users benefitted from the research
Prof Siu was also commissioned by Hong Kong’s mass transit system, the MTR, to conduct a Safety Culture Survey in 2014-15. She identified key dimensions of safety culture which could be improved, and used these findings to make recommendations. A total of 982 MTR staff participated in the survey, which led to several changes in practices to improve the safety procedures of the Operations Division.


Prof Siu was commissioned by the MTR to conduct a second survey on safety culture. Based on the results, many specific improvements were implemented. The safety reporting programme was revamped and promoted, resulting in an increase in reported cases and follow-up actions. Safety training arrangements were strengthened, and videos, newsletters, and other media were developed to present relevant information. Regular briefings have been introduced to enable staff to better understand safety procedures.