Role–specific stress, physical and psychological health and social support in a mining training academy
The mining industry in South Africa plays a significant role in the economy of the country. South Africa is rated as one of the world’s largest producers of key reserves - gold, manganese ore and platinum– and the high level of industrial and production skills in the mines also contributes to the country’s success. Although the gold mining industry’s contribution is of the utmost importance, it is also under pressure to remain competitive and cost–efficient. Old shafts, worsening health of employees, ore bodies that are not always in their prime phase, the radical increase in the annual electricity tariffs and the possibility of decreased gold prices contribute to the decline in the gold mining industry’s success. The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between role–specific stress and physical and psychological health, and to determine whether social support has a moderating effect in this relationship for employees in a mining training academy. A cross–sectional survey design was used and a convenience sample (n=437) was taken from a South African gold mining company, where the only criterium for inclusion was to be employed by the organisation at the time the research took place. Descriptive statistics and inferential statistics were used to analyse the data. The measuring instruments used in this study were proven to be reliable. The results indicate that role stressors and physical and psychological health problems are positively related. It also shows that social support can decrease role–specific stress and that social support – especially from colleagues and supervisors – can help to reduce depression and improve the quality of sleep. Furthermore, logistic regression analyses were used to determine whether role stress and social support hold any predictive value regarding physical and psychological health. It was found that if participants’ experience role–specific stress and they receive support – especially from supervisors – it can predict their quality of sleep and the use of medication (physical health). The findings also indicate that role stress can predict the experience of depression with regards to psychological health. However, the moderating effect of social support between role stress and depression was not supported in this research. To conclude, recommendations for the organisation and future research are made.