It is important to track the trends of future working hours, since working hours have strong associations to everyday life and work-life interaction, but also to health. In this paper we aim to track the current and future trends in working hours. We discuss the trends through the key dimensions of working hours: the length, timing, tempo and autonomy. We also consider the role of current trends of spatial changes of work. Changes in working time patterns are fostered by several driving factors: globalization and business restructuring challenging the current work organizations, new information technologies, demographic and climate change and the current and future pandemic. The past and current tremendous changes in working hours indicate that changes in working hours will continue. The contemporary trends in future working hours pose risks for personal, family and social life, material well-being and health. At its best, however, the new post-industrial working time regime may provide more autonomy and time for recovery to employees as new technologies and changes in business structures release opportunities for greater individual autonomy over how, where, and for how long paid work is performed.
COVID-19is around the world. We attempt to apply three-step method in ISO/IEC Guide 51: 2014 to COVID-19 infection control in theworkplace. The results show that the COVID-19 infection control measuresinclude the eradication of the virus, the destruction of infectivity, thedetoxification and weakening and the elimination of opportunities for infectionas “Inherently Safe Design Measures”, the avoidance of contact as “Safeguardingand Complementary Protective Measures” and the reduction of contact and theavoidance of seriousness as “Information for Use”. Among these specificmeasures, the New Normal, especially in the manufacturing industries, would be “telecommuting”and “unmanned workplaces”, which are part of the elimination of opportunitiesfor infection, and “changes in flow lines” and “changes in airflow”, which arepart of the avoidance of contact. Where “telecommuting” and “unmannedworkplaces” are feasible, they should be implemented as much as possible, andwhere they are not, attempts should be made to minimize human-to-human contactby “changes in flow lines”. In addition, in the area of “changes in airflow”,there are high expectations for future research on how to establish aventilation design for COVID-19, in which but also the source would be workersthemselves, not only combustible gases and toxic gases.
Increased variety and use of chemicals and the number of chemical disasters have changed chemical management. Europe and the United States have adopted self-regulation in chemical management; furthermore, countries worldwide must comply with the relevant United Nations recommendations and international standards for chemical management. Japan has experienced numerous pollution incidents and occupational disasters, resulting in the development of laws and regulations on chemical management; however, these policies are inconsistent with international trends. In particular, the shift from a compliance approach to self-regulation and measures for small businesses remain as challenges. This paper discusses the current situation and issues in chemical management in Japan, focusing on international trends.
Surgical masks are widely used for the prevention of respiratory infections. However, the risk of heat stroke during intense work or exercise in hot and humid environments is a concern. This study aimed to examine whether wearing surgical masks increases the risk of heat stroke during mild exercise in such environments. Twelve participants conducted treadmill exercise for 30 min at 6 km/h, with 5% slope, 35°C ambient temperature, and 65% relative humidity, while wearing or not a surgical mask (mask and control trials, respectively). Rectal temperature (Trec), ear canal temperature (Tear), and mean skin temperature (mean Tskin) were assessed. Skin temperature and humidity of the perioral area of the face (Tface and RHface) were also estimated. Thermal sensation and discomfort, sensation of humidity, fatigue, and thirst were rated using the visual analogue scale. Trec, Tear, mean Tskin, and Tface increased during the exercise, without any difference between the two trials. RHface during the exercise was greater in the mask trial. The psychological ratings increased during the exercise, without any difference between the two trials. These results suggest that wearing surgical masks does not increase the risk of heat stroke during mild exercise in moist heat.
This paper reviews three viewpoints regarding the society after the COVID-19 infection on the concept of safety management. The first is the relationship between With COVID-19 and a zero risk. As a result of coexistence with COVID-19 for more than one year, the Japanese society thought that a zero risk is difficult to accomplish, and some risks will be accepted to maintain social activities. This leads a change in a way of thinking from zero risk to risk-based safety management. The second is the change in the way of working. As a result of having experienced remote work forcibly, it will become the hybrid model that incorporated remote work in a conventional method. Personnel evaluation changes from the seniority system to the job evaluation type, and each person’s professional ability will be more focused on. The third is the review of the Japanese society system. In Japan, although the infection level was controlled to some extent by the groupism of the self-restraint of actions by mutual monitoring, there is a limit of managing based on groupism. Moreover, as seen in the delay of vaccine development and the medical care collapse, these problems should be improved by changing Japanese society system.
The global spread of COVID-19 pandemic forced the scientific community to identify new ways of exchanging and transferring the scientific knowledge, also considering that the measures taken to combat the pandemic, such as travel restrictions, closed borders and gathering bans, led to cancellations of many conferences, meetings and workshops.
The enhancement of the existing digital platforms and the development of new systems to share scientific knowledge has allowed the scientific community to “meet” again in new virtual environments (e.g. Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Live Stream, Demio, GoToWebinar Seminar, Google Hangouts, Skype, Microsoft Teams, etc.), providing an unprecedented opportunity to reform methods of organizing academic conferences in all disciplines.
Starting from the review of the existing literature, this study aimed at investigating the impact of the spreading of virtual conferences on the field of research. The SWOT analysis was used to identify strengths and weaknesses of the scientific conferences organized in the new format, as well as opportunities and threats created by the socio-economic and political context in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many employees have been required to work full- or part-time at home. This paper investigates the impact of perceived privacy on cognitive irritation and sleep problems among employees who worked from home during the pandemic.
Additionally, we analyzed the role of cognitive irritation as a mediator between privacy and sleep problems. We created a cross-sectional questionnaire, which was completed by 293 employees who performed home-based telework in German-speaking Switzerland. A mediation analysis was then conducted using a multiple regression analysis. A test of the indirect effect showed a significant mediation path from perceived privacy via cognitive irritation to sleep problems. Hence, the negative indirect effect indicates that perceived privacy is an important job resource that may prevent sleep problems. Further research is needed regarding home-based telework and recovery strategies to prevent sleep problems.
Potential insomnia in healthcare workers is a public health concern as it may degrade the quality of patient care. We examined the prevalence of insomnia symptoms in healthcare workers and their perceived need for a sleep intervention. Participants were 62 nurses working full-time at a U.S. hospital. These nurses were asked about background characteristics, perceived stress, sleep concerns, and need for a sleep intervention. They also participated in 14-day ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and actigraphy sleep study. A qualitative analysis showed that the majority (92%) of participants reported at least one sleep concern with insomnia-related concerns being most prevalent (68%). Quantitative analyses indicated that those with insomnia-related concerns had higher perceived stress overall and lower EMA sleep sufficiency and sleep quality. Moreover, participants with insomnia concerns had shorter actigraphy-measured nap duration prior to non-workdays than those without. Nearly all (95%) expressed interest in participating in a sleep intervention; an online format and mindfulness contents were most preferred. Our results suggest a high prevalence of insomnia symptoms and a high interest in a sleep intervention in nurses. Information obtained from this study could be used to deliver a tailored sleep intervention for nurses whose role in public health is essential.
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.
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 (45x asbestos exposure, 37x 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
29 physicians (A1-Group) and 24 physicians (A2-Group) attending the 1st and 2nd “Asian Intensive Reader of Pneumoconiosis” (AIR Pneumo) training course, respectively, and 22 physicians (B-Group) attending the Brazilian training course took the examination of reading the 60-film set. The objective of the study was firstly to investigate the factor structure of physiciansf proficiency of reading pneumoconiosis chest X-ray, and secondly to examine differences in factor scores between groups. Reading results in terms of the 8-index of all examinees (Examinee Group) were subjected to the exploratory factor analysis. A 4-factor was analyzed to structure the 8-index: the specificity for pneumoconiosis, specificity for large opacities, specificity for pleural plaque and shape differentiation for small opacities loaded on the Factor 1; the sensitivity for pneumoconiosis and sensitivity for large opacities loaded on the Factor 2; the sensitivity for pleural plaque loaded on the Factor 3; the profusion increment consistency loaded on the Factor 4. 4-Factor scores were compared between each other of the three groups. The Factor 2 scores in A1 and A2 groups were significantly higher than in B-Group. Four factors could reflect four aspects of reading proficiency of pneumoconiosis X-ray, and it was suggested that 4-factor scores could also assess the attained skills appropriately.