The global integration of economies worldwide has led to increased pressure for “labor flexibility”. A notable aspect of this trend has been the rise in non-standard work arrangements, which include part-time work, temporary agency-based work, fixed-term contingent work, and independent contracting. Although non-standard work arrangements are convenient for employers, they are often associated with poor pay, absence of pension and health benefits, as well as lack of protection from unions and labor laws. Studies have begun to address the question of whether these “precarious” jobs pose a health hazard for workers. The challenge for causal inference is that precarious workers are likely to differ from non-precarious workers in a variety of characteristics that also influence health outcomes, i.e. there is confounding and selection bias. However, even after taking account of these biases —through propensity score-matched analysis— there is evidence to suggest that non-standard work may be damaging to workers' health. Policies modeled after the European Union's Directive on Part-Time Work may help to mitigate some of the health hazards associated with precarious work.
It is very difficult to understand the current status of work-related injuries and diseases in farmers comprehensively. However, various work-related injuries and diseases in Korean farmers are thought to occur, including injuries by farming machinery and tools, pesticide poisoning, peasant syndrome, vinyl house disease, respiratory diseases, infectious and skin diseases. Particularly zoonoses including brucellosis, tsutsugamushi disease tend to increase, and musculoskeletal problems by awkward posture, repetition, and long duration work are on the rise. Moreover Korean farmers themselves do not pay much attention to these problems and farmers are not considered a priority by health care facilities either since the number of people involved in farming has declined and have been old aged dramatically in recent years. Yet at the national level, many efforts and concerns for improving agricultural safety and health have recently been made and these issues have become a major focus of research in Korea. This paper was prepared to elucidate the current status of the work-related injuries and diseases of Korean farmers and to provide basic data for future studies.
This is an investigation of the interaction between organizational and management factors at work for both workers and supervisors in the manufacturing sector. Survey was done in a sample consisted of 23 establishments, 630 workers, and 47 supervisors, meanwhile 10 focus group discussions (FGDs) for workers, and 5 FGDs for supervisors. Workers and supervisors alike reported illnesses and job dissatisfaction. Survey showed that the most prevalent issues among workers were: the need to upgrade skills (76.3%), pressured in doing work (60.5%), fast paced work (60.5%), repetitive work (63%), and that work is both physically and mentally tiring (59.7%). On the other hand, supervisors described their work as challenging and stimulating (66%), needed regular upgrading of skills (46.8%), and needed literacy on information technology (31.9%). Focus group discussions showed that workers and supervisors were confronted with stress, fast-paced work, the need to upgrade skills due to accommodation of information technology into the work production, fatigue, re-engineering and downsizing by management, low job control and difficult worker-supervisor relationship. This study was able to show that health of workers and supervisors were affected by both organizational and management factors at work.
The GHS is a United Nations Recommendations issued in 2003 which aims to enhance the protection of human health and the environment by providing an internationally comprehensible system for hazard communication. It is expected for countries to implement the GHS as soon as possible with a view to having the system fully operational by 2008. Capacity building projects are ongoing in many countries in order to achieve full implementation. In Japan, GHS-related activities that have been initiated include translation of the GHS documents, gap analysis between the GHS and the current laws, model classification of regulated substances, amendment of Industrial Safety and Health Law, standardization of the GHS elements, development of manual, guidance and educational tools. These activities are briefly described in this paper. Critical issues that impede full implementation of the GHS in the country are also discussed. Focus is given to the system for classification and labelling of hazardous chemicals limited to regulated and controlled chemicals and on the need to develop “Right to know” concepts in chemical management. These issues may be addressed adequately as Japan works towards the full implementation of the GHS.
Using the database of the Korea Labor Welfare Corporation (KLWC), which is the public organization for workers' compensation in Korea, we analyzed the occupational infectious diseases among the health care workers who were compensated by the Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance (IACI). From January 1998 to December 2004, 307 cases of infectious diseases were approved as being cases of occupational diseases. Women accounted for 83% (254 cases) of the compensated cases. The most common age group was 20-29 yr of age (228 cases, 74.3%). The majority of infections were tuberculosis (203 cases, 66.1%), hepatitis (42 cases, 13.7%), chickenpox (11 cases, 3.6%), AIDS (8 cases, 2.6%) and scabies (7 cases, 2.3%). The major types of occupations were nurses, including 18 aid-nurses (223 cases, 72.6%), doctors (37 cases, 12.1%), clinical pathology technicians (18 cases, 5.9%) and workers who were taking care of patients (8 cases, 2.6%). The mean working duration after infection was 3.9 yr and the mean duration of recuperation was 9.7 months. The most common department where the infected workers were working was the inpatient ward (161 cases, 52.4%), followed by the intensive care unit (51 cases, 16.6%). Through this study, we were able to elucidate the characteristics of occupational infectious diseases among Korean health care workers. These results have to be considered when establishing the management policy for prevention of occupational infectious diseases among Korean health care workers. Also, all knowledge from these Korean cases will be helpful to make good practices to promote occupational safety and health in the new era of globalization.
The government of Viet Nam places a high priority on upgrading the quality of farmers' lives. Providing adequate occupational safety and health (OSH) protection for all farmers is an important challenge. The Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) of Viet Nam trained WIND (Work Improvement in Neighbourhood Development) farmer volunteers. From 2004-2007, MOLISA in cooperation with ministries of health and agriculture trained 480 WIND farmer volunteers in selected 14 provinces. Trained farmer volunteers trained their neighbouring farmers and expanded their networks. The WIND training programme produced in Cantho, Viet Nam in 1996, was used as the core training methodology. The WIND action-checklist, good example photo-sheets, and other participatory training materials were designed for WIND farmer volunteers as practical training tools. The volunteers trained 7,922 farmers. The trained farmers implemented 28,508 improvements in materials handling, work posture, machine and electrical safety, working environments and control of hazardous chemicals, and welfare facilities. The provincial support committees organized follow-up workshops and strengthen the WIND farmer volunteer networks. The system of WIND farmer volunteers proved effective in extending practical OSH protection measures to farmers at grassroots level. The system of WIND farmer volunteers was adopted in the First National Programme on Labour Protection and OSH of Viet Nam as a practical means in OSH and is now further expanding within the framework of the National Programme.
Data about hepatic effects of ethylene glycol ethers had been limited and inconsistent. In this study, we determined whether ethylene glycol monoethyl ether acetate (EGEEA) was a hepatotoxin in exposed workers. Workers from one silk-screening shop (n=29), using EGEEA as the major cleaning solvent, were recruited as high exposure group. Another group of workers with indirect and low exposure to EGEEA (n=57) were selected as the comparison group. Air concentration of EGEEA was measured by 8-h personal sampling. The mean of air EGEEA concentration in the high exposure group was 7.41-16.5 ppm. The mean of air EGEEA concentration in the low exposure group was 0.07-3.62 ppm. Liver function profiles showed that the AST, ALT, ALP and γGT in both male and female EGEEA-exposed workers were not significantly different from those in the comparison group. After adjustment for potential confounders such as gender, body mass index, hepatitis B status, and duration of employment, no difference in hepatic dysfunction were found between exposed and comparison groups. In addition, a two-year follow-up study of these EGEEA-exposed workers, no significant change in hepatic function was noted either. The findings suggest that EGEEA is not a hepatotoxin in this workplace.
Behavior models have provided an accident proneness concept based on life change unit (LCU) factors. This paper describes the development of a Korean Life Change Unit (KLCU) model for workers and managers in fatal accident areas, as well as an evaluation of its application. Results suggest that death of parents is the highest stress-giving factor for employees of small and medium sized industries a rational finding the viewpoint of Korean culture. The next stress-giving factors were shown to be the death of a spouse or loved ones, followed by the death of close family members, the death of close friends, changes of family members' health, unemployment, and jail terms. It turned out that these factors have a serious effect on industrial accidents and work-related diseases. The death of parents and close friends are ranked higher in the KLCU model than that of Western society. Crucial information for industrial accident prevention in real fields will be provided and the provided information will be useful for safety management programs related to accident prevention.
The mean vibration transmissibility values were measured for cotton work gloves commonly used in vibration-generating workplaces to evaluate the vibration isolating performance of cotton work gloves. The mean vibration transmissibility values of work cotton gloves were compared with those of four types of anti-vibration gloves measured in the same way. All the measurements were performed based on the newly issued JIS T8114 that is identical to ISO10819. Also, linear transmissibility values were calculated from the measured data. Cotton work glove samples did not satisfy the requirements specified in JIS T8114. All the test samples showed mean vibration transmissibility values of more than 1.0 for spectra M and H. In contrast, all the anti-vibration gloves tested in this study satisfied the JIS T8114 requirements. The linear transmissibility values of cotton work gloves were consistently higher than those of anti-vibration gloves for spectrum H. The linear transmissibility values of cotton work gloves were steady at about 0.9 up to 200 Hz, then increased with vibration frequency to about 1.0 at 400 Hz. In contrast, the linear transmissibility values of anti-vibration gloves increased with frequency to 1.0 at 30 Hz and then decreased with small peaks at 100 Hz and 300 Hz. Our results suggest that cotton work gloves do not show enough vibration-isolating performance. Therefore, attention should be paid to encouraging the widespread use of anti-vibration gloves in place of cotton work gloves to reduce exposure to hand-arm vibration.
Asbestosis and pleural plaques exhibit unpredictable but progressive development, and there are no markers routinely available to measure their prognosis. Asbestos exposure induces the generation of reactive oxygen species, and 8-isoprostane is involved in experimental asbestos-related lung toxicity. This oxidative stress marker was measured in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) in 92 former asbestos workers with mean age 68.8±1.7 yr and mean duration of asbestos exposure 24.1±2.0 yr. The control group had 46 subjects with mean age 65.2±3.3 yr. The mean level of 8-isoprostane, analyzed by liquid chromatography electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, was higher in asbestos-exposed subjects (69.5±6.6 pg/ml, p=0.0001) compared with the control group, where the concentration was 47.0±7.8 pg/ml. The results presented support the hypothesis that oxidative stress due to asbestos is the main cause of increased 8-isoprostane in EBC. Measurement of 8-isoprostane in EBC is a promising non-invasive means for assessing the activity of asbestos-induced diseases.
The aim was to study the effect of rotation direction on the time-of-day variations of cortisol, fatigue and sleep in sound engineers broadcasting in a life show. The salivary cortisol and ratings of stress, sleepiness and fatigue were followed at three hour intervals in 25 sound engineers: 13 working very fast forward-rotating shifts and 12 working very fast backward-rotating shifts. Cortisol was assessed with radioimmunological kits. The participants reported for stress symptoms and filled sleep diary. Cortisol retained the typical diurnal pattern. The rotation direction interacted with the shift significantly and as a result higher cortisol values during the morning and night shifts in the backward rotating group were found as well as worse quality of sleep. Higher salivary cortisol during morning and night shifts and worse quality of sleep in engineers working very fast backward-rotating shifts may be an indication for insufficient recovery.
Adjustable sit-stand workstations, which are designed to allow workers to sit and stand autonomously while working, were examined to identify the effects on workers' musculoskeletal discomfort, alertness and performance. Twenty-four healthy subjects participated in the study. The subjects were required to do an English transcription task for 150 min under the following conditions: 1) sitting at standard workstations (Standard), 2) sitting on a chair with the work surface elevated to standing position (High-chair) and 3) a combination of 10-min sitting and 5-min standing with the same setting as that in the high-chair condition (Sit-stand). The subjective musculoskeletal discomfort scores indicated that High-chair and Sit-stand resulted in relatively higher discomfort levels than the Standard condition. Although the ratio between low-frequency (0.04-0.15 Hz) and high-frequency (0.15-0.4 Hz) components of heart rate variability (LF/HF ratio) in Sit-stand was higher than that in other conditions, there were no significant differences in subjective sleepiness among the three conditions. As for work performance, there was a tendency to be steadily high under the Sit-stand condition compared with other conditions, but not a significant difference. This study revealed that although the use of sit-stand workstations can contribute to keeping workers' arousal level steady, it has an adverse effect in light of musculoskeletal discomfort.
This study was designed to determine whether the supplement of energy compound could attenuate strain-induced damage to skeletal muscle in rats. Energy compound is a saline mixture of the following ingredients: ATP (10mg), Coenzyme-A (50 units), Coenzyme-Q10 (50mg), Cytochrome C (30mg) and Vitamin B6 (50mg). Experimental animals were injured in right gastrocnemius muscles by a strain injury model. Energy compound groups were given energy compound 10ml/kg body weight per day since injured, while saline groups were given saline at the same dose. And a sham operation was performed on the right hindlimb of control group. Plasma was centrifuged to measure lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), lactic acid (La) and creatine kinase (CK) on 3, 7 and 14d post injury. Muscles were removed and fixed for histology observation and immunohistochemistry assay of desmin and vimentin. The results showed a similar tendency of plasma CK, La and LDH in saline and energy compound groups, while the lower level was found in the energy-compound group. The histological examination of muscle sections revealed a lower degree of damage in the energy compound group in which the expression levels of desmin and vimentin were higher than in the saline group. It is suggested that energy compound supplement may attenuate strain-induced muscle damage and facilitate its regeneration.