WHO formally defines burnout as a diagnosable condition

Burnout is something that many workers in New Jersey suffer from without even knowing it. Now, however, the World Health Organization has formally defined the condition as something diagnosable. Within its occupational context, burnout is a syndrome caused by work-related stress and characterized by exhaustion, an increasing mental distance from one’s job and a reduced ability to carry out that job in a professional manner.

Burnt-out workers usually have low morale, feel anxiety, hold negative or cynical thoughts about their job, become irritable and have trouble concentrating on their work. This last symptom may lead to accidents on the job as burnt-out workers are known to drive poorly and misuse heavy machinery. They may also take to using drugs and alcohol. In extreme cases, they may fight with fellow employees.

OSHA has no standards regarding the identification and treatment of burnout, so employers should take the initiative to raise awareness of it among employees. Those suffering from burnout could receive training and support, perhaps through an employee assistance program. Some programs could be set up for paid time off.

Burnout is not yet considered an occupational illness. That may change one day, and if it does, then employees may find it easier to prove that they are suffering from the syndrome in case they need to file a claim.

Pursuing a workers’ compensation case can be complicated, especially when the harm done is more psychological than physical. Any injured workers can file for benefits regardless of who is to blame for those injuries, but employers can deny a claim if employees were clearly at fault. This is one reason why victims may want to hire a workers’ comp attorney. An attorney may assist with any appeals that have to be made and discuss when to opt for a settlement.

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