The Impact of Early Fatherhood on Men's Safety at Work

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St John, Winsome

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Patterson, Elizabeth

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2010
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Abstract

This study explores the impact of known risk factors on health and safety at work in men in early fatherhood. Becoming a father is a major challenge, for men have to face and balance two of the most central responsibilities in adult life, those of work and family. Research and literature has shown that employed fathers work longer than ever before, and that society expects fathers to increase their role in parenting activities. Engaging in long work hours and parenting might create work-family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. The collective effect of which might impact on the father’s safety behaviour at work. Currently, no research has been located that identifies the relationship between these variables and work safety behaviours. A descriptive survey method was used to investigate known risk factors of work family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue in working men in early fatherhood and their relationship with safety behaviour at work. Fathers were recruited via antenatal and postpartum maternity services in the Gold Coast region of Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Australia, resulting in a convenience sample of 241 fathers. A questionnaire was sent to participating fathers during the first 3 months of their baby’s life, at 6 weeks and 12 weeks. The questionnaire utilised previously published scales that measure work family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue and safety behaviour at work. To gain an indication of accidents experienced during the first 3 months postpartum, a researcher-developed scale was used to measure participants’ self-reported history of workplace related incidents (incidents at work or driving to and from work). This study revealed that working men during early fatherhood worked long hours at work and took very little parental leave after the birth of their baby. Furthermore, a large proportion of participants reported having work family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Inferential data analysis confirmed a statistically significant increase in work family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness, and fatigue at 6 and 12 weeks, and a decrease in safety behaviour at 6 and 12 weeks. Moreover, subsequent fathers scored higher in work family conflict, excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue than first-time fathers. Fatigue was the most significant contributor to safety behaviour at 6 and 12 weeks, and physical exertion at work significantly predicted the reporting of work-related incident at 6 and 12 weeks. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the factors that impact on the work safety of men during early fatherhood and the risk factors they face in meeting both work and family commitments. What is more, the results of the study have clinical significance to midwives, community nurses and occupational health nurses in relation to their clinical practice and client education. The study also provides a basis for further investigation into the health and safety of men during early fatherhood as they balance work and family.

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Thesis (PhD Doctorate)

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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School of Nursing and Midwifery

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The author owns the copyright in this thesis, unless stated otherwise.

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Public

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Subject

Early fatherhood

workplace related incidents

safety at work

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