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Recovery within and beyond the context of work - effects and design approaches in a changing world of work

Project number: F 2431 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2023-09-30


An increasing proportion of employees in Germany is suffering from recovery impairments, such as emotional and physical exhaustion and general fatigue. From the perspective of occupational safety and health, it is necessary to counteract potential risk factors for such strains and to strengthen resources as protective factors.

Recovery is one of these protective factors for employees. However, a large proportion of employees reports recovery problems, such as a lack of distance from work in the evening, the absence of rest breaks and shortened rest time due to work activities in leisure time.

To date, little has been known about the ways in which working conditions and recovery relate to one another. In theory, two mechanisms are distinguished. On the one hand, it is assumed that unfavourable working conditions cause problems with the recovery process, which can give rise to further negative repercussions, such as emotional and physical exhaustion or general fatigue (i.e. recovery has a mediating function). On the other hand, it is believed that the negative effects of a high workload are at least attenuated if the recovery succeeds (i.e. recovery has a moderating function). So far it is unclear in which cases recovery takes on which function. This question urgently needs to be clarified because it is critical to whether the prioritisation of preventive situational approaches to work design required by the Safety and Health at Work Act (Arbeitsschutzgesetz, ArbSchG) has to be supplemented with preventive behavioural measures.

The goal of the multi-sectional project is to provide comprehensive insights into the interaction of workload, strain and recovery. Recovery will be investigated in working contexts, for example by looking at the rest break design and workload changes. Furthermore, recovery after work and on days off is included. This takes into account the development over different time periods, from days and weeks to months and years. Interviews, observations and surveys will be conducted for this purpose. One focus is the investigation of knowledge and service activities. Targeted situational and behavioural measures for practice will be derived from the results.



Unit 3.2 "Mental Workload and Mental Health"

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