To elucidate the subjective thermal strain of workers in kitchen working environments, we performed a cross-sectional study involving 991 workers in 126 kitchen facilities in Japan, using a self-reporting questionnaire survey and subjective judgment scales (SJS). The ambient temperature, mean radiant temperature (MRT), and wet-bulb globe temperature (WBGT) index were measured in 10 kitchen facilities of the 126 kitchens. The association of SJS with the types of kitchen was estimated by multiple logistic regression models. Of the 991 kitchen workers, 809 (81%) responded to the questionnaire survey. Compared with the electric kitchens, the proportion of workers who perceived the room temperature as hot to very hot was significantly higher, and the ambient temperature, MRT, and WBGT were significantly higher in the gas kitchens. Compared with the electric kitchens, workers in gas kitchens had a more than fivefold (males) and tenfold (females) higher SJS adjusted for confounding factors (male odds ratio (OR), 5.13; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.65-15.9; and female OR, 10.9; 95%CI, 3.89-30.5). Although SJS was affected by some confounding factors, our results suggest that workers in gas kitchens might be exposed to a higher heat strains than those in electric kitchens.
In this study a common yet very strenuous construction work activity, was evaluated biomechanically by studying electromyography (EMG) of the major neck muscles. The muscles studied were the sternocleidomastoid and the upper trapezius. Fifteen healthy participants (10 males and 5 females) with no history of musculoskeletal abnormalities participated in this study. The participants lifted 25%, 50%, and 75% of their maximum shoulder height static strength at neutral, maximally flexed, and maximally extended neck postures. The weight lifted as well as the neck posture significantly affected the activities of the neck muscles. Increase in the weight increased the activation of the neck muscles. The sternocleidomastoid muscle was most active at the extended neck posture, while the upper trapezius muscle was most active at the flexed neck posture. The results of this study indicate that the neck muscles play an active role during lifting and holding tasks at shoulder height. Thus, such tasks could be probable risk factors associated with neck disorders prevalent among construction workers.
To investigate if it is appropriate to apply urine density correction when a urine sample is dense or dilute. Data on hippuric acid (HA-U), toluene (Tol-U), creatinine (CR) and specific gravity (SG) in end-of-shift urine samples and exposure to air-borne toluene were cited from previous publications. In practice, 837 cases were available, and they were classified into dense, intermediate and dilute groups taking 0.3 and 3.0 g/l of CR and 1.010 and 1.030 of SG as cut-off points. Lines of regression of HA-U and Tol-U (as observed, CR-corrected or SG-corrected) with air-borne toluene were calculated for each density groups, and correlation coefficients (CCs) were compared. The dense groups gave CCs similar to those of the intermediate groups. Dilute versus intermediate group comparison also gave promising results. These conclusions were however based primarily on the findings with observed values, because the numbers of cases in the dilute or dense group were limited when CR- or SG-correction was applied. Literature survey showed that urine density correction does not always improve the correlation between solvents in air and exposure makers in urine. It was concluded that no correction for urine density may be necessary in evaluating HA-U and Tol-U in dense (and probably also dilute) urine samples as markers of occupational toluene exposure. Just in case when correction for urine density is desired for any reason, SG-correction may be recommended.
Due to accident severity and the extent of claim payments commuting accidents are a significant expense factor in the German industry. Therefore the aim of the present study was the identification of risk factors for commuting accidents in a German chemical company. A retrospective analysis of commuting accidents recorded between 1990 and 2003 was conducted in a major chemical company in Germany. A logistic regression-model was calculated in order to determine factors influencing the duration of work inability as a result of commuting accidents. The analysed data included 5,484 employees with commuting accidents. Cars (33.1%) and bicycles (30.5%) were the most common types of vehicles used by commuters who had an accident. The highest number of commuting accidents was observed in the age group under 26yr. Accidents on the route from the work site to the worker's residence were less frequently observed, but they caused longer periods of work inability than accidents on the way to the work site. The longest periods of work inability were found in the groups of motorcyclists and older employees. The present study identifies specific groups at risk for commuting accidents. The data of the present investigation also underline the need for developing group specific prevention strategies.
We evaluated the immuno-pulmonary status of employees working at public facilities to determine whether they are at greater risk of developing respiratory allergies. Fifty-two employees from child daycare centers, elderly nursing homes, subway stations, and hypermarkets, and 17 office workers were recruited. All were subjected to a skin prick test (SPT) for 25 aeroallergens and the methacholine bronchial challenge test. Various immunological parameters, including plasma IgE and IgG4 levels, hematology parameters, and in vitro cytokine production from peripheral T cells, were assessed. Forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1) were also determined. Of the facility employees, 54% responded to the SPT, and house dust mite induced positive skin reactions most frequently. Compared to the SPT-negative facility employees and the office workers, the SPT-positive facility employees had upregulated plasma IgE levels and eosinophil frequency in their peripheral blood. Their peripheral T cells also showed elevated IL-4 production relative to IFNγ production. Four public facility employees who reacted to the methacholine challenge test had elevated eosinophil frequencies, increased plasma IgE levels, and lowered FEV1/FVC values. This study suggests that workers at public facilities could show greater risk towards the development of respiratory allergic diseases.
The aim of the present study was to examine the relation of insomnia with job stress factors, stress response, and social support. A self-completed questionnaire survey was conducted in 212 male Japanese workers at a synthetic fiber plant. With regard to insomnia, subjects were asked the first 5 of the 8 questions on the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS). Job stress factors, stress response and social support were assessed using the Job Stress Questionnaire. Multiple regression analyses showed that psychological job stress factors of poor appropriateness of work and high qualitative workload were associated with insomnia. The psychological stress response of depression and physical stress responses were also related with insomnia. Depression was also related to appropriateness of work. The present results showed that insomnia was closely related with the psychological job stress factor of appropriateness of work and the psychological response of depression. These mutual relationships between insomnia and poor mental health need be investigated further.
Small-scale enterprises face difficulties in fulfilling the regulations for organising Systematic Work Environment Management. This study compared three groups of small-scale manufacturing enterprises with and without support for implementing the provision. Two implementation methods, supervised and network method, were used. The third group worked according to their own ideas. Twenty-three enterprises participated. The effects of the implementation were evaluated after one year by semi-structured dialogue with the manager and safety representative. Each enterprise was classified on compliance with ten demands concerning the provision. The work environment was estimated by the WEST-method. Impact of the implementation on daily work was also studied. At the follow-up, the enterprises in the supervised method reported slightly more improvements in the fulfilment of the demands in the provision than the enterprises in the network method and the enterprises working on their own did. The effect of the project reached the employees faster in the enterprises with the supervised method. In general, the work environment improved to some extent in all enterprises. Extensive support to small-scale enterprises in terms of advise and networking aimed to fulfil the regulations of Systematic Work Environment Management had limited effect — especially considering the cost of applying these methods.
Bibliometric techniques have been introduced to the field of industrial health in the past two decades. Since then, several studies have assessed progression of science in this area using quantitative measures and qualitative measures such as impact factor or H-indices. Since novel procedures such as density-equalizing mapping have not been used so far, the present study combined classical bibliometric tools with novel scientometric and visualizing techniques. All “INDUSTRIAL HEALTH” entries listed in the ISI database since 1987 were screened and analyzed. Using bibliometric approaches, a continuous increase in qualitative markers such as collaboration numbers or citations were found while quantity markers such as author numbers or publication numbers remained relatively constant. The combination with density equalizing mapping revealed a distinct global pattern of research productivity and citation activity with Japanese institutions at the leading position. Radar chart techniques were used to visualize bi- and multilateral research cooperations and institutional cooperations. In summary, the present study supplies a first scientometric-bibliometric approach that visualizes research activity in “INDUSTRIAL HEALTH” over the past decades.
Bhopal gas tragedy is considered as one of the world's worst industrial disaster. Approximately, 3,000-6,000 people died and 200,000 injured due to the leak of 40 tons of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas from a pesticide plant. We aimed to decipher any persistent and subtle immunotoxic effects of MIC in the survivors of the tragedy. The study was divided into 3 groups i.e. group I (n=40); Age and gender matched non-exposed healthy controls recruited from places within the geographical region of Bhopal but from unaffected zones, group II (n=40); Age and gender matched non-exposed healthy controls recruited from places well outside geographical region of Bhopal and group III (n=40); Age and gender matched MIC exposed subjects from affected zones inside geographical region of Bhopal and the status of inflammatory biomarkers (IL-8, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF, IL-10, IL-12p70 cytokines and C-reactive protein) were analysed. The results displayed a significant increase in the levels of all circulating inflammatory biomarkers in the MIC exposed group in comparison to non-exposed cohorts. A toxin induced genetic and/or epigenetic alteration seems to be the likely underlying cause. However, further studies are essential for both mechanistic understanding and clinical implications of these patterns.
Long-term sickness absence has doubled in Sweden, as has complaints of disturbed sleep. The present study sought to investigate the prospective link between long-term sickness absence and disturbed sleep or fatigue. Sleep and fatigue from a representative national sample was followed up 1.5-2 yr later in terms of return from long-term (≥90 d) and intermediate term (14-89 d) sickness absence. 8,300 individuals participated in the survey, out of which 372 were on long-term and 1,423 were on intermediate term sick leave. The data was analyzed using logistic regression analysis with adjustment for background and work environment variables. Separate analyses were carried out for disturbed sleep and fatigue since they were correlated. The results showed that those with disturbed sleep at the start had an Odds Ratio (OR) of 0.56 (95% Confidence Interval (CI)=0.35-0.90) for returning from long-term sickness absence. For fatigue the results were OR=0.56 (CI=0.34-0.90). Intermediate term sickness absence showed similar, but slightly weaker, results. The results indicate that disturbed sleep and fatigue are predictors of lack of return from long term and intermediate term sickness absence.
Chromium is widely used in various industries including construction sector. Skin contact with cement has been associated with allergic or irritant contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is one of the most frequently reported health problems among construction workers. Irritant contact dermatitis from cement ranges from cement burns to cumulative irritant contact dermatitis. Cement burns are rarely reported and are considered a severe form of acute irritant contact dermatitis. They are associated with amateur user working in a short ready-mix time-frame with poor protective measures. They usually result in significant morbidity and initially are associated with minimal discomfort. We report a typical case.
A new automated method based upon solid phase micro-extraction (SPME)/fast gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was developed for the quantitative determination of airborne peracetic acid (PAA). The method is suitable for the quick assessment of brief acute exposure as well as for long-term environmental monitoring of PAA and can assist in improving safety and environmental quality in workplaces where disinfectants are used. During a monitoring campaign in the Regional Hospital of Florence, Italy, the 8-h average air concentration of PAA was 1/10 of the threshold limit value of time weighted average in 87% of the clinical units tested. However, the application of the new SPME method showed that short-term exposure to PAA could be relatively elevated in some hospital units with poor ventilation, allowing prompt intervention in order to reduce worker exposure to this potentially toxic compound.
We conducted a study of the health and working conditions in 10 carpenter's workshops in the municipality of Armenia (Colombia). In these workshops, all the most exposed workers to wood dust were surveyed at the areas of sanding, brushing, immunization and painting (workers with the highest risk to get chronic respiratory disease). They were 177 workers. The use of hard and soft woods for furniture was detected. Besides, some pesticides, volatile organic solvents, synthetic epoxy resins glues and paintings, were used for finishes, which increases the risk of acquiring some neurological diseases and damage to the nervous system. Occurrence of cancer in nostrils mainly due to the use of hardwoods is an additional risk. With regard to the basic lighting conditions, it was found that half of workshops had deficiencies in special carving areas, because they were below the minimum allowable lighting limit level (500 lux). With relation to noise, all the workshops exceeded the permissible maximum limit value (85 dBA). With respect to the occurrence of occupational events, no data were found in the companies, or analysis of employee absenteeism due to the exposure to particulate matter.
The objective of this study was to clarify the status of occupational health and safety services for immigrant workers, the barriers to employing immigrant workers and the needs of the managers in workplaces to keep immigrant workers healthy and safe. This study was a cross-sectional survey. We sent self-administered questionnaires to 126 workplaces in the western part of Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan in August 2006. The questionnaire included the characteristics of the workplace, barriers to employing immigrant workers, current actions to keep immigrant workers healthy and safe, the implementation rate of health checkups and important issues to keep immigrant workers healthy and safe. Implementation rates of health and safety education, creating job instruction manuals written in their native languages, creating safety signs written in their native languages, and the use of translators were 62.5%, 50.0%, 41.1% and 37.5%, respectively. Implementation rates of general health checkups, special health checkups and follow up after health checkups were 80.8%, 73.6% and 67.3%, respectively. The most important issue which the managers considered kept immigrant workers healthy and safe was health checkups (69.6%). In conclusion, several occupational health and safety services were conducted for immigrant workers without a margin to compare with Japanese workers.
The objective of this study is to provide fundamental data related to size-based characteristics of bioaerosol distributed in the general hospital. Measurement sites are main lobby, ICU, surgical ward and biomedical laboratory and total five times were sampled with six-stage cascade impactor. Mean concentrations of airborne bacteria and fungi were the highest in main lobby as followed by an order of surgical ward, ICU and biomedical laboratory. The predominant genera of airborne bacteria identified in the general hospital were Staphylococcus spp. (50%), Micrococcus spp. (15-20%), Corynebacterium spp. (5-20%), and Bacillus spp. (5-15%). On the other hand, the predominant genera of airborne fungi identified in the general hospital were Cladosporium spp. (30%), Penicillium spp. (20-25%), Aspergillus spp. (15-20%), and Alternaria spp. (10-20%). The detection rate was generally highest on stage 5 (1.1-2.1 μm) for airborne bacteria and on stage 1 (>7.0 μm) for airborne fungi.
This article describes a pioneering longitudinal investigation from Australia known as the Hunter Community Study (HCS). The HCS investigates retired and near-retired persons randomly selected in a regional area on the heavily populated east coast. As it collects detailed survey, clinical, and biological measures, the HCS is more comprehensive than most other research of this nature. The HCS also has significant occupational implications at an international level, being one of the first Australian studies to take a full, lifetime occupational history linked to job exposures. Longitudinal cohort studies with exposure assessment, such as the HCS offer epidemiologists around the world a clear opportunity for examining and evaluating the long-term risks of employment across a variety of workplace settings. It is only with detailed datasets that continuing progress can be made in elucidating mechanisms of occupational disease causation in the new millennium.