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WHO: burnout is a diagnosable "occupational phenomenon"

Many New Mexico workers in a wide range of industries are suffering from burnout, a condition that the World Health Organization has recently called a diagnosable "occupational phenomenon." According to the WHO, it is a syndrome that arises from ill-managed stress on the job and results in an increased mental distance from one's job accompanied by feelings of exhaustion. Workers may also have negative or cynical thoughts about their job.

Another symptom of burnout is the inability to concentrate on one's work. Burnt-out employees may engage in unsafe driving, misuse heavy machinery, miss deadlines and delay in responding to emergencies. They may start using drugs, abusing alcohol or getting in fights with their co-workers.

Though OSHA has no standard regarding burnout, it's clear that the condition poses a safety risk. Of course, identifying it is harder than identifying, say, whether an employee is wearing the right PPE or not. Those who directly supervise other workers should take action and talk about burnout, provide support and training to those who suffer from it, and try to create employee assistance programs.

One day, burnout may be considered an occupational illness. This will likely make it easier for workers to establish what they are suffering from in the event that they file a claim.

Injured employees are able to file for workers' compensation, assuming that their employer carries the insurance, and the program can pay out for medical bills, short- or long-term disability leave and a portion of the wages lost during the physical recovery. Victims can file once they have achieved maximum medical improvement. Before filing, they may want to consult a lawyer because the filing process can be complex. Employers have the right to deny payment, too, in which case victims might need to file an appeal.

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