Mental Workload (MWL) can be defined as the difference between the worker’s capacity to perform assigned duties, which is limited, and what is demanded from him (Bridger, 2009). As this difference decreases, the workload is deemed to be high and vice versa. This gap has been found to have an inverse relationship with the task performance, and also with the workload. This means that the less the job demands from the workers, the more satisfied they are with their position. The more these demands increase, the more the risk of errors, stress, risky conduct, and fatigue is. On a positive note the smaller the spare capacity the higher the satisfaction levels and the more the rewards (Bridger, 2009).
We will write a custom Report on Mental Workload in Plumbers and Paramedics specifically for you
301 certified writers online
This is what the performance of the task demands from the individual. It is mostly the difficulty of the job as weighed against the average capabilities of the worker, and it is the most important causative agent of the requirements from the worker in terms of effort (Viswesvaran & Ones, 1995). The demands can take a psychological and/or physical nature about the task at hand.
They work in a physical environment that calls for more brawn than brain. For the plumber, the most engaging moments come during the actual installation, and not on memorizing concepts and procedures. The plumber, after learning his/her trade only needs to have a slight acquaintance with the building blueprints reading to be able to do the necessary plumbing. This having been said, it is still important to note that the wage rate for plumbers differs. In most circumstances, the Plumber does not have a consistent job and his earnings come when a job becomes available.
On the other hand, the paramedic works in an environment that is both physically and psychologically demanding. The paramedic is an emergency medical worker who has to first undergo intensive training that requires him to absorb a zillion theories and concepts and have them at their fingertips. To complicate matters further for paramedics, the concepts and Modus Operandi for the field are very dynamic; hence, they have to keep updating their mental databases (Siegrist, 1996). The environment they work in also demands much from them in terms of exposure to traumatizing situations that expose them to grueling details of various incidents, a situation that affects their morale.
The job demands the involvement of the whole body and mostly the large muscles in task accomplishment to work with the wrenches, lay the piping, bind the piping together, dig the trenches, drill holes through concrete, etc; it is all physically exerting. The plumber is also likely to be working in the most awkward of spaces with fittings to be done under the sinks, on ladders to do overhead piping and working underground in cellars and trenches, this calls for continuous twisting and different body positioning. The work is normally, dig, drill, lay, wrench, and screw means that it is also very repetitive with most of the actions being universal in all settings. The machines involved e.g. hand-held drills also include a lot of vibratory movements interpreting into more load on the muscles (Bridger, 2009).
This job also involves a lot of physical activities. The paramedic has to work in very unpredictable environments. The settings can be a road accident with many victims stuck inside the vehicle. The job involves a lot of lifting and pushing and sometimes with very heavy subjects. The muscle strain could also come from too much time spent in ambulances shuttling from one locality to another as duty demands. The worker will also be called upon to deal with individuals who might be uncooperative and who might physically restraining. But, of course, these scenarios in the paramedic’s job do not occur daily. It is also important to mention that paramedic’s job is based on the principle that the norm is to approach the subject as a whole and the individual as a part of a whole (Macdonald & Miller, 2004). Another instance in a paramedic’s situation that may need the involvement of muscles is in drowning incidents where the paramedic will be forced to swim.
Though the plumber might be required to possess some skills that involve mental concentration, like blueprint reading and interpretations, the requirement on their psychological effort is minimal since most if not all of their mistakes can be undone at not such a great cost.
On the other hand, the paramedic is always being called upon to pay the strictest attention to detail. He/she is supposed to examine the patient with the most basic of equipment and make a correct decision. The skills required to form the paramedic are feeling the body parts and deciding on best actions that call for total concentration. While working a scene, the paramedic can’t afford to have their attention distracted at all and no distractions are allowable (Kahneman, 1973). These professionals have to remain calm even at the face of serious tragedy and while giving the necessary assistance to victims, they have to have the highest levels of psychomotor control since any mistake they make can mean the difference between success and failure and in most cases, the mistakes are very expensive to undo or can even be fatal. Their decision-making skills must be very precise since it has to be done at the shortest time possible with no option for mistakes.
Considering all the facts mentioned above, the paramedic emerges as the one faced by the highest levels of MWL. These combined with the fact that the job entails long working hours which interpret into little time for the person and very strict timelines where the crisis is concerned to act to validate the claim (Job, & Dalzel, 2001). The paramedic is also meant to shoulder so much responsibility considering that the life or death of the victims depends on the decisions they make. In paramedicine, no single situation presents itself like another, the requirements keep changing as do the equipment and one has to keep updating their knowledge constantly (Mezey & Robbins, 2001). The paramedics also work under a lot of uncertainties with complications always lurking in the shadows no matter how well a paramedic feels they have handled a case, they cannot be perfectly sure that the case will be successful to the end. These and other factors make the field a super MWL profession.
Since this profession entails the little repetition of tasks, the most practical way of dealing with Mental Workloads would be to work on the development of the practitioners coping capabilities and resources. The enhancement of the ‘Self Perceived Capacity and performance eminence will have a constructive consequence on the job satisfaction levels as well, as boost morale’ (Siegrist, 1996). Since the convectional striking of a balance between the time on task and performance is difficult, the demands vary from an event to an event, the workload coping mechanisms employed should strike a balance between the welfare of the practitioner with the performance on duty. This might include tactics like shorter durations on the rounds.
Bridger, R. S. (2009) Introduction to Ergonomics. London: Taylor and Francis.
Dalzel, E. (2001). Stress, Workload and Fatigue. Sheffield: Sheffield Hallam University.
Kahneman D. (1973). Attention and effort. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Macdonald, W. & Miller, P. (2004). In J. Houdmont & S. McIntyre (eds.), Occupational Health Psychology: Key Papers of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology (pp. 64). Castelo Da Maia: ISMAI Publishers
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
Mezey, G. & Robbins, I. (2001). Usefulness And validity of post‐traumatic stress disorder as a psychiatric category. BMJ, 323: 561‐3.
Siegrist, F. (1996). Medical Sociology. Web.
Viswesvaran, C. & Ones, D.S. (1995). Theory testing: Combining psychometric meta‐analysis and structural equations modeling. Personnel Psychology, 48:865‐885.