Europe has always played a key role in the field of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and can be considered the cradle of Occupational Health. The European policy framework has been set since the establishment of the European Union, but its strength lies in the enactment of the Framework Directive on Occupational Health and Safety (89/391/EC), which has had a strong positive impact on the assessment and management of occupational risk factors and has promoted the quick diffusion of common standards across Europe. Yet, some implementation issues still remain to be addressed, due to changes in the world of work, fragmentation, economic crisis and, more generally, to the impact of globalization. Therefore, actions need to be reviewed with respect to research plans and policy implementation so as to support the OHS social dimension fostering a broader concept of wellbeing at work.
From the 1970s to 2000, the occupational accident rate in Korea showed a continuous decline. However, the rate has remained stagnant since 2000 even when the fatal injury rate has decreased 40% from that year. Injuries caused by being caught in objects have decreased while those caused by slips and falls on same level and falls from the height have increased. In 2010, the non-fatal injury rate per 100 employees was 0.63 while the fatal injury rate per 100,000 employees was 9.74. The construction industry accounted for 40.2% of all fatal injuries, and falls from the height caused 54.3% of the fatality. Musculoskeletal diseases accounted for 78.8% of the non-fatal occupational diseases while cardio-cerebrovascular diseases and pneumoconiosis are the two major fatal occupational diseases. Occupational diseases caused by chemical agents have decreased to 0.6% of all cases. However, there were several social disputes related to occupational diseases caused by low level of chemicals such as leukemia in a semiconductor company. Korea planned to reduce the fatal injury rate and total workday loss by 30% by 2015. In order to achieve this goal, the government will focus on vulnerable groups in collaboration with allies such as professional associations or organizations.
In Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) caused by overwork are recognized by government as work-related. These three countries are the only countries in the world that officially recognize CVDs caused by psychosocial factors (e.g., overwork) as work-related cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases (WR-CVDs), and compensate employees accordingly. The present study compared the similarities and differences among the recognition of overwork-related CVDs in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The criteria by which WR-CVDs are identified are very similar in the three countries. However, in the interval surveyed (1996–2009), Korea had a remarkably larger number of recognized WR-CVD patients than did Japan or Taiwan. Recognition of occupational diseases is influenced by various factors, including socio-cultural values, the nature of occupational health care schemes, the extent of the social security umbrella, national health insurance policy, and scientific evidence. Our results show that social factors may be very different among the three countries studied, although the recognition criteria for WR-CVDs are quite similar.
This study was to evaluate whether sleep-related autonomic function in nurses recovers during their days off following a rapidly rotating, clockwise shift schedule. Ten rotating-shift nurses and ten regular morning-shift nurses were included. Nurses slept at home and were allowed to sleep and wake spontaneously. For the rotating-shift workers, ambulatory polysomnographic recordings were taken during nighttime sleep (after the second morning shift, afternoon shift, and on days off) and during daytime sleep (after the second night shift). No significant differences were found between regular-shift nurses and rotating-shift nurses in terms of sleep patterns and cardiac autonomic functions during day shift. When comparing sleep patterns within shift groups, the total sleep time of night shift was lower than their other shifts. Controlling for the variable of total sleep time allowed us to compare cardiac autonomic functions following different shifts (for the rotating shift nurses). During the non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement periods, the high frequency (HF) value on rotating shift nurses’ days off was found to be significantly higher than their other shifts. However, the low to high frequency ratio (LF/HF) on days off was found to be obviously lower than that during shift work. Two consecutive days off may be sufficient for nurses to recover sleep-related autonomic functions after a rapidly rotating, clockwise three-shift schedule. Sleep-related autonomic functions may be improved during days off to minimize health risks.
Nickel oxide with two different particle sizes, micron size (NiO) and submicron size (nNiOm), as well as crystalline silica as a positive control and titanium dioxide as a negative control, were intratracheally instilled in rats and the phospholipid concentration and the protein concentration and surface tension of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), which are used in surfactant assessment, were measured to see if they could be effective biomarkers in toxicity assessment. The results showed that the NiO instilled group showed no significant difference compared to the control group throughout the observation period. In contrast, a significant difference was found in the nNiOm instilled group compared to the control group throughout the observation period. Moreover, a significant difference was found in the crystalline silica instilled group for each measurement compared to the control group while for the titanium dioxide group, almost no significant difference was found. These results indicate that submicronsized particles of nickel oxide with smaller median diameters potentially have a stronger biological effect than micron size particles. They also indicate that screening can be done by measuring the phospholipid concentration and the protein concentration and surface tension of BALF.
The biodynamic responses to the human body give an understanding of why human responses to vibration (changes in health, comfort, and performance) vary with the frequency and direction of vibration. Studies have shown that biodynamic responses also vary with the magnitude of vibration and that the backrests of seats influence the transmission of vibration to the seated human body. There has been little study of the nonlinearity in the biodynamic responses of the body to dual-axis excitation and no study of the influence of backrests during dual-axis excitation. This study investigated the apparent mass and cross-axis apparent mass of the human body exposed to random vibration (0.2 to 20 Hz) in all 15 possible combinations of four magnitudes (0, 0.25, 0.5 and 1.0 ms–2 r.m.s.) of fore-and-aft vibration and the same four magnitudes of vertical vibration. Nonlinearity was evident, with the body softening with increasing magnitude of vibration when using a fixed magnitude of vibration in one direction and varying the magnitude of vibration in the other direction. The fore-and-aft apparent mass on the seat was greater without a backrest at the lower frequencies but greater with a backrest at the higher frequencies. The vertical apparent mass on the seat was decreased by the backrest at low frequencies. Cross-axis coupling was evident, with excitation in one axis producing a response in the other axis. It is concluded that the nonlinearity of the body evident during single-axis and multi-axis vibration, and the influence of backrests, should be taken into account when determining frequency weightings for predicting human responses to vibration and when optimising the dynamics of seating to minimise exposure to vibration.
To evaluate the effects of a combined sleep hygiene education and behavioral approach program on sleep quality in workers with insomnia, we conducted a randomized controlled trial at a design engineering unit in Japan. Employees evaluated for insomnia by the Athens Insomnia Scale (≥6 points) were divided into an intervention and control group. The intervention group received a short-term intervention (30 min) program that included sleep hygiene education and behavioral approaches (relaxation training, stimulus control, and sleep restriction) performed by occupational health professionals. We calculated differences in change in Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores between the two groups from baseline to three months after the start of intervention after adjusting for gender, age, job title, job category, average number of hours of overtime during the study period, marital status, smoking habit, average number of days of alcohol consumption per week, exercise habits, K6 score, and baseline PSQI score. Results showed that the average PSQI score decreased by 1.0 in the intervention group but increased by 0.9 in the control group. Additionally, the difference in variation between the two groups was 1.9 (95% confidence interval: 0.6 to 3.4), which was significant. Taken together, these results indicate that the intervention program significantly improved the sleep quality of workers with insomnia.
Although seasonal variation in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) has been studied cross-sectionally and longitudinally, the results to date have been mixed. Here, to test seasonal variation in this compound with regard to within-subject, inter-day variation, we conducted a longitudinal follow-up study with repeated measurements in Japanese workers with low hsCRP. Blood samples were obtained from four male indoor daytime workers, who were aged 32–57 and commuted to offices in Kawasaki City, on six days within 2-wk windows in February and October, 2008. Serum hsCRP was measured using ultrasensitive latex-enhanced immunonephelometry. Among the subjects with detectable levels of hsCRP, individual median serum hsCRP levels were 38–74% higher in October than in February (p=0.03). This study identified the presence of a seasonal variation in the serum hsCRP level of Japanese workers with low hsCRP levels.
Exposure assessment is a main component of epidemiologic studies and variability in exposure. This assessment is considered as a common approach for such phenomenon. A total of 129 dust samples were collected randomly from 197 personnel from a cement factory located in Ilam province, during 2009 in Iran. The between- and within-group components of variability were determined to assess the contrast in exposure level between the Similar Exposure Groups (SEGs) and to calculate the within-worker geometric standard deviation of the theoretical exposure-response slope. Results were analyzing by one-way random effects model. According to the mentioned model, the probability of long-term mean exposure exceeding to the occupational exposure limit (OEL) was assessed for each SEGs. The arithmetic means (AM) of total dust levels ranged from 0.04 to 39.37 mg/m3. The geometric means (GM) of total dust were higher in the crusher (20.84 mg/m3), packing (17.29 mg/m3), kiln (16.78 mg/m3), cement mill (14.90 mg/m3), and raw mill (10.44 mg/m3). However, the figures for the maintenance and administration parts were 3.77 mg/m3 and 1.01 mg/m3, respectively. The random effects model data demonstrated that the F-value calculated was greater than the critical F-value approximately 59% of the variability in the exposure was due to differences between groups. Based on these finding, the order of probability of the long-term mean exposure exceeding (Z) to the OEL of 10 mg/m3 for total dust which were in kiln (100%), packing (100%), cement mill (90%), crusher (73%), raw mill (60%) administration (2.3%) and the maintenance parts (0%).