One of the arguments I’ve been working on in my proposal to explain the link between prior issues with mental health and subsequent work injuries is the role of cognitive resources (memory, attention, acuity, etc.).
The basic argument goes something like this: cognitive resources that are negatively impacted by mental health problems are the same resources that reduce the likelihood of experiencing a work injury.
While I was working through papers on the meta-analysis, I came across one that brought this idea to the forefront.
Arlinghaus and colleagues (2012) assessed the intermediary role of fatigue as a result of inadequate sleep in predicting work injuries. One of the core predictive variables of inadequate sleep that they assessed was psychological distress.
They find that psychological distress was not only directly related to an increased chance of experiencing a serious work injury, but that it was also indirectly related to experiencing a serious work injury through obtaining less sleep.
The implication of this is that the effect of mental health on cognitive resources is also complex, potentially reducing a persons day-to-day acuity and functioning by influencing other factors such as the amount of sleep they get the night before.
Arlinghaus, A., Lombardi, D. A., Willetts, J. L., Folkard, S., & Christiani, D. C. (2012). A structural equation modeling approach to fatigue-related risk factors for occupational injury. Am J Epidemiol, 176(7), 597-607. doi:10.1093/aje/kws219