Robots drive workers to mental health issues and alcohol abuse

(ORDO NEWS) — The authors of the new work explored the relationship between the introduction of industrial robots in factories, the level of injuries among workers in the US and Germany and their well-being.

Employees of various enterprises in the United States, where they are actively implementing and using autonomous devices that help move various objects and perform production processes, have become less likely to get injured thanks to robotization.

However, now they are more prone to mental problems and more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. This conclusion was reached by scientists from the Universities of Pittsburgh and Princeton, the Free University of Berlin and the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies (Germany).

“We still know little about the impact of robots on physical and mental health. On the one hand, they can take on some of the most strenuous, physically intense and risky tasks, reducing the risk to workers.

On the other hand, competition with robots increases the pressure on people who are afraid of losing their jobs or facing the need to undergo retraining, ”the researchers note.

They analyzed data on work injuries received by American workers: due to automation, the injury rate was reduced by 1.2 cases per hundred employees per year.

At the same time, in regions where robots often worked hand in hand with humans (mostly suburban areas), scientists have found an increase in deaths from drugs and alcohol – plus 37.8 cases per 100,000 people annually.

There has also been a slight rise in the number of suicides and referrals due to mental health problems.

Then, after studying the impact of robotics on workers in Germany, the researchers came to a surprising conclusion: in this country, employees of enterprises did not feel the detrimental effect on the psyche and well-being due to the introduction of robots.

In the meantime, the number of injuries there has decreased by five percent, and the physical load at work has decreased by four percent.

“Germany has stricter employment protection laws,” the scientists explain. “In both cases, the robots had a positive impact on the physical health of workers, reducing injuries and work-related disability.

But in conditions where employees of enterprises were less protected, competition with robots correlated with mental health problems.

As a result, the authors of the work conclude: robotization and automation of production, despite all the advantages, can have a bad effect on the psyche and well-being of workers. And government labor market institutions must take responsibility to keep people safe.

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