• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Questions about the causes or sources of work stress have been the subject of considerable research, as well as public fascination, for several decades. Earlier interest in this issue focused on the question of whether some jobs are simply more inherently stressful than others. Other questions that soon emerged asked whether some individuals were more prone to stress than others. The Handbook of Work Stress focuses primarily on identifying the different sources of work stress across different contexts and individuals.   

Physical Work Environment
Physical work environment
JanettaMitchell McCoyGary W.Evans

Authors' Note: In addition to the editors for their comments and direction, we thank Frank Becker, Eric Sundstrom, and Jean Wineman for critical feedback on earlier drafts of this chapter.

This chapter focuses on the attributes and properties of the physical environment of work that produce stress. Many occupational stress studies overlook the physical components of the work environment in favor of discussing health and behavior in its psychosocial context (Cooper & Cartwright, 1997; Sparks & Cooper, 1999). Yet, the physical environment is constant and ubiquitous. All people experience it, and that experience is rarely neutral (Evans & McCoy, 1998). As such, changes in the physical environment provide a potentially powerful intervention tool for enhancing organized work.

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