The Industrial Safety and Health Law enacted in 1972 has contributed much to the progress of occupational safety and health (OSH) activities. Many indicators including death and illness statistics show continued improvement up to date. The establishment of OSH organization within enterprises and 5-yr administrative programs formulated by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (MHLW) were important factors for satisfactory management. The past programs indicate that the weight of self regulation in comparison to legal control gradually increased since late 1990s. In spite of the past achievement, many hazards such as overwork, mental stress, chemical agents and others still remain to be prevented. The systematic risk assessment of unregulated chemicals by the MHLW proved to be an effective scheme for risk-based management and to deserve continued implementation. The size of human resources for OSH was estimated at 1.5 million. In view of the adverse effect on OSH by economic, social and political environment in the future, the importance of the efficiency of OSH management was indicated. Since the efficiency depends on the competence of OSH personnel and the level of scientific basis, it was concluded that the fundamental policy for the future should give high priority to education and research.
The industrial revolution that took place in the United Kingdom (UK) between 1760 and 1830 lead to profound social change, with rapid urbanisation associated with squalid living conditions and epidemics of infectious diseases. The next 150 yr or so saw the introduction of many specific acts of health and safety legislation. In 1974 new overarching primary legislation was introduced that would produce a step change in the evolution of health and safety enforcement. In 2004, a new strategy was launched designed to promote a vision embedding health and safety as a cornerstone of a civilised society and to achieve a record of workplace health and safety that leads the world. Good progress in controlling many safety hazards and improving occupational hygiene has been made. There has been a fall in numbers of a wide range of injuries and diseases or illnesses since 2000. The challenge will be to maintain these favourable trends and prepare for new and emerging diseases at a time when resources are diminishing. The importance of occupational health within the UK health and safety strategy has been recognised over the last decade. Occupational health is developing a new paradigm which combines classical health risk management with assessment of workability, rehabilitation back to work and promotion of health and wellbeing. There is an increasing recognition that being in supported employment is good for health and reduces health inequalities.
The WBGT heat stress index has been well tested under a variety of climatic conditions and quantitative links have been established between WBGT and the work-rest cycles needed to prevent heat stress effects at the workplace. While there are more specific methods based on individual physiological measurements to determine heat strain in an individual worker, the WBGT index is used in international and national standards to specify workplace heat stress risks. In order to assess time trends of occupational heat exposure at population level, weather station records or climate modelling are the most widely available data sources. The prescribed method to measure WBGT requires special equipment which is not used at weather stations. We compared published methods to calculate outdoor and indoor WBGT from standard climate data, such as air temperature, dew point temperature, wind speed and solar radiation. Specific criteria for recommending a method were developed and original measurements were used to evaluate the different methods. We recommend the method of Liljegren et al. (2008) for calculating outdoor WBGT and the method by Bernard et al. (1999) for indoor WBGT when estimating climate change impacts on occupational heat stress at a population level.
The present study analyzes the effect of work stressors, personal strain and coping resources on burnout among Chinese medical professionals. A total of 2,721 medical professionals were selected using the stratified cluster sampling method. A Chinese version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey was used to measure burnout, whereas the Occupation Stress Inventory-Revised Edition was used to evaluate work stressors, personal strain, and coping resources. The structural equation model (SEM) was established to test the effect of work stressors, personal strain, and coping resources on burnout. Among the predictive factors for burnout, work stressors and personal strain were the primary risk factors, whereas coping resources make up the important protective factor. The result from SEM indicated that work stressors had both direct and indirect effects on burnout, with the indirect effect mediated by both personal strain and coping resources. Coping resources only affected burnout indirectly, as mediated by personal strain, whereas personal strain affected burnout independently. The results suggest that work stressors, personal strain, and coping resources play important roles in burnout among medical professionals. To prevent burnout, such countermeasures as controlling the work stressors, reducing personal strain, and strengthening coping resources are recommended.
This study examines predictors of sickness absence in patients presenting to a health practitioner with acute/ subacute low back pain (LBP). Aims of this study were to identify baseline-variables that detect patients with a new LBP episode at risk of sickness absence and to identify prognostic models for sickness absence at different time points after initial presentation. Prospective cohort study investigating 310 patients presenting to a health practitioner with a new episode of LBP at baseline, three-, six-, twelve-week and six-month follow-up, addressing work-related, psychological and biomedical factors. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify baseline-predictors of sickness absence at different time points. Prognostic models comprised ‘job control’, ‘depression’ and ‘functional limitation’ as predictive baseline-factors of sickness absence at three and six-week follow-up with ‘job control’ being the best single predictor (OR 0.47; 95%CI 0.26–0.87). The six-week model explained 47% of variance of sickness absence at six-week follow-up (p<0.001). The prediction of sickness absence beyond six-weeks is limited, and health practitioners should re-assess patients at six weeks, especially if they have previously been identified as at risk of sickness absence. This would allow timely intervention with measures designed to reduce the likelihood of prolonged sickness absence.
Leukotrienes (LTs) are involved in the pathogenesis of lung fibrosis and were increased in exhaled breath condensate (EBC) of the patients with pneumoconiosis. However the possible influence of extra-pulmonary disorders on the EBC markers is not known. Therefore in parallel with EBC, LTs’ levels in the plasma and urine were measured in patients with pneumoconiosis (45 × asbestos exposure, 37 × silica exposure) and in 27 controls. Individual LTs B4, C4, D4 and E4 were measured by liquid chromatography – electrospray ionization – tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS). In EBC, LT D4 and LT E4 were increased in both groups of patients (p<0.001 and p<0.05), comparing with the controls. Both LT B4 and cysteinyl LTs were elevated in asbestos-exposed subjects (p<0.05). Asbestosis with more severe radiological signs (s1/s2–t3/u2) and lung functions impairment has shown higher cysteinyl LTs and LT C4 in the EBC (p<0.05) than mild asbestosis (s1/s0–s1/s1). In addition, in the subjects with asbestosis, cysteinyl LTs in EBC correlated with TLC (–0.313, p<0.05) and TLCO/Hb (–0.307, p<0.05), and LT C4 with TLC (–0.358, p<0.05). In pneumoconioses, EBC appears the most useful from the 3 fluids studied.
This study evaluated whether cold-induced deterioration in neuromuscular function can be restored by intermittently increasing the workload. We examined the level of muscular strain, agonist-antagonist co-activation, the occurrence of EMG gaps and neuromuscular efficiency in wrist flexor and extensor muscles at 21°C (TN) and 4°C (C10) with a 10%MVC workload. During second exposure to 4°C (C50) the workload was increased every fourth minute to 50%MVC. The results indicated that muscular strain and co-activation was the highest and the amount of EMG gaps and neuromuscular efficiency the lowest at C10. By intermittently increasing the workload at C50 we were able to reduce muscular strain and co-activation (p<0.05) and induce a trend like increase in EMG gaps and enhance neuromuscular efficiency in relation to C10 (NS). It may be concluded that intermittently increasing the workload, i.e. breaking the monotonous work cycle was able to partially restore neuromuscular function.
This study investigated the distinctiveness between workaholism and work engagement by examining their longitudinal relationships (measurement interval=7 months) with well-being and performance in a sample of 1,967 Japanese employees from various occupations. Based on a previous cross-sectional study (Shimazu & Schaufeli, 2009), we expected that workaholism predicts future unwell-being (i.e., high ill-health and low life satisfaction) and poor job performance, whereas work engagement predicts future well-being (i.e., low ill-health and high life satisfaction) and superior job performance. T1–T2 changes in ill-health, life satisfaction and job performance were measured as residual scores that were then included in the structural equation model. Results showed that workaholism and work engagement were weakly and positively related to each other. In addition, workaholism was related to an increase in ill-health and to a decrease in life satisfaction. In contrast, work engagement was related to a decrease in ill-health and to increases in both life satisfaction and job performance. These findings suggest that workaholism and work engagement are two different kinds of concepts that are oppositely related to well-being and performance.
The mental health problems of employees have become a major occupational health issue in Japan. External employee assistance program providers (EAP) have become important in mental health care for workers, but their activities are poorly documented. This descriptive study was undertaken to clarify the status and future tasks of EAP in Japan. The subjects were all EAP (n=27) registered in the Japanese Chapter of Employee Assistance Professionals Association. The questionnaire survey was conducted in January 2007. We received 13 replies, a response rate of 54.2%. Most EAP provided seminars, stress checks, stress management, counseling, and support for a return to work. The number of EAP contracted with small-scale enterprises was small. EAP communicated infrequently with companies. To promote the use of EAP, their advertising, education and training of staff, accumulation of scientific evidence, development of an official certification system for staff, and improvement of contents of EAP services were cited.
Many work activities include hazards to workers, and among these biological risk is particularly important, mostly because of different types of exposure, contact with highly dangerous agents, lack of limit values able to compare all exposures, presence of workers with defective immune systems and therefore more susceptible to the risk. Bioaerosols and dust are considered important vehicles of microganisms at workplaces and interaction with other occupational agents is assumed. Moreover, biological risk can be significant in countries with increasing economic development or particular habits and some biological agents are also classified as carcinogenic to human. Specific emerging biological risks have been recently pointed out by Risk Observatory of the European Agency for Safety and Health at work, and we must consider the worker’s attitude and behaviour, influenced by his own perception of risk more than his real knowledge, that could over-underestimate the risk itself. Therefore, biological risk at work requires a complex approach in relation to risk assessment and risk management, made more difficult due to the wide variety of biological agents, working environments and working techniques that can determine the exposures.