Almost 85% of the 850 respondents across the UK said they faced challenges in social distancing while working and a quarter experienced a deterioration in their mental health, researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow found. Another quarter felt they lacked work-based support, according to the findings published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Concerns were also raised about the loss of social support and work-life balance. A small number of respondents said they saw positive changes such as increased time with families, more outdoor exercise and a beneficial impact on the environment.
Many railway workers had to continue to carry out their daily duties during the pandemic while taking on increased demands. Nearly 80% of respondents to the survey were male and just under two-thirds were train drivers, while just over one in 10 had pre-existing physical or mental health problems.
Dr Nicola Cogan, of Strathclyde's School of Psychological Sciences & Health, led the study. She said: "The pandemic has presented significant mental and physical strain for many groups of workers.
"Railway workers were already potentially exposed to stressful situations, such as accidents and assaults, but also faced a high risk from Covid-19, owing to frequent contact with commuters. Our results indicate that a large number of railway workers perceived high levels of risk and burnout relating to Covid-19 stressors; this indicates the importance of workplace support and wellbeing during periods of high perceived risks."