Work is the environment in which adults and, in many countries children, spend a large part of our lives. Occupational health hazards have evolved with the world of work. To the physical, chemical and biological risks, new risks derived from globalization, the prevalence of the free market, or new technologies have been added. Teleworking, downsizing, outsourcing, increased working hours, precariousness, in short, brought with them a threat to physical, mental and social health: psychosocial risks.
The fourth European Survey on Working Conditions found that one in five workers suffers from a stress-related disorder, affecting more than 40 million people. Accepting that the development of countries occurs at different speeds and with increasingly noticeable differences, it becomes necessary to exchange experiences, initiatives and practices proposed from all professions and fields that deal with occupational health. Some countries do not even have legislation on psychosocial risks, in most, a culture of prevention has not been established and, in others, it is evaluated by legal imperative without understanding the evaluation of these risks as a prior and essential step to the intervention.
The World Health Organization recently recognized, forty years later, the “burnout syndrome” in its revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Damages generated by harassment at work are not understood as occupational disease. In some countries it has been classified as a criminal offense and the International Labor Organization promulgated the Violence and Harassment Convention (No. 190) in 2019.
The investigation of psychosocial risks involves many difficulties, among other reasons because of its apparently “invisible” nature. The focus has been on the characteristics of the worker, as if he suffered a psychological weakness, while the evidence shows that we are not facing a problem of individuals and organizations have understood that dedicating efforts to prevent these risks not only achieves healthier organizations, but also greater productivity and quality of services. The debate in recent years has focused on discussing three forms of non-exclusive and necessary action: actions on the psychosocial factors of the environment, facilitation of participation and communication processes and attention to workers through actions that promote health and well-being . The implementation of a preventive culture in the workplace must involve all agents (governments, social agents, prevention services, managers and workers).
This is why this international meeting is emerging as an invaluable opportunity for multidisciplinary exchange between countries, research groups and health and prevention professionals. We must not forget that we live in an increasingly complex and changing world and that the COVID pandemic has posed not only a challenge for science and health, but also a threat to the safety, health and lives of workers.
The development of the productive forces grows unstoppably, as does the knowledge and availability of new technologies and industrial processes, generating new problems. For all these reasons, the Network of Researchers on Psychosocial Factors at Work, A.C. (RIFAPT A.C.), the University of Zaragoza, the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana Unidad Xochimilco, the Faculty of Higher Studies Zaragoza of the UNAM, and the Autonomous University of Mexico City convened this 1st International Congress and 4th. Congress of the Americas on Psychosocial Factors at Work to all those who want to contribute knowledge, research and intervention methodologies, experiences and where we can from a broad and multidisciplinary perspective, get a little closer to the objective that work ceases to be a source of suffering, discomfort and illness and recover the creative and humanizing value that it possesses.