Objective: Use of an appropriate teaching approach is a major concern for faculty members who are involved in occupational health and safety academic education. The challenge is to explore teaching tools to equip students with knowledge and skills to prepare them for their practices, in which they will encounter occupational health and safety issues in various occupational settings. The current study presents the design and implementation of a team project-based learning approach for undergraduate occupational health students to examine the appropriateness and perceptions of students and educators with regard to such a learning experience. Methodology: Steps were taken to guide the educators and students through the learning process based on projects completed in teams. The research tools for collecting data were a questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with participants. Results: The results illustrated that use of the proposed teaching approach as part of occupational health education may have the potential to motivate and enhance the active roles of educators and students in the learning process, and improve students' technical and social skills that are crucial for practice in the occupational health field. Conclusions: The study findings showed that project-based learning may provide a promising teaching strategy in the education and training of occupational health students. In addition, academic institutions should encourage educators to plan, introduce and evaluate the effectiveness of project-based learning.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 125–131)
Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the relation between sickness presenteeism and different types of future sickness absence in 2,983 Belgian middle-aged workers. Methods: Data were collected from 1,372 male and 1,611 female workers. Presenteeism was assessed by a single question, evaluating the frequency of occasions of going at work, despite illness, during the preceding year. Prospective, registered sickness absence data were collected during 12 months of follow-up. Multivariate logistic regression models were used to investigate the relationship between presenteeism and short/long spells of absenteeism and high sickness absence frequency. Results: High rates (>5 times) of presenteeism at baseline were significantly and independently associated with both long spells of sickness absence (at least 15 consecutive sick leave days) (men, OR=2.73, 95% CI=1.24−6.03; women, OR=2.40, 95%CI=1.31−4.40) and short spells of sickness absence (sick leave between 1 and 3 days) (men, OR=2.38, 95%CI=1.25−4.51; women, OR=1.90, 95%CI=1.17−3.11) in both genders during one year follow-up. Moderate rates (2−5 times) of presenteeism were significantly associated with long spells of sickness absence only in the male group (OR=1.90, 95%CI= 1.21−2.97). With regard to high sickness frequency (at least 3 sick leave episodes), a significant and positive association with high rates of presenteeism was demonstrated only in the female workers (OR=2.38, 95%CI=1.40−4.04). Conclusions: These results suggest that presenteeism was related to different types of future sickness absence.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 132−141)
Objective: The aim of our study was to investigate the natural course of silicosis in terms of radiographic progression among Japanese tunnel workers. Methods: Tunnel workers with silicosis were included in our study between January 2008 and June 2011. We retrospectively assessed workers' radiographs from their first through last visits to see whether there was progression. All films were interpreted by two physicians, who had been specially trained in using the ILO (2000) International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses (ILO/ICRP). We classified the radiographic findings according to the ILO/ICRP. Survival analysis was performed and then presented as time to progression. Subgroup analysis among the progressed group was performed to demonstrate duration of progression. Results: A total of 65 patients, who were no longer exposed to silica for the duration of the study, were included. The mean age at the first visit was 58.60 ± 7.10 years. The incidence rate of progression was 42 per 1,000 person-years with a median time to progression of 17 years. Progression was demonstrated among 33 cases (51%). The mean durations of progression from category 1 to category 4 and category 2 to category 4 were 14.55 and 10.65 years, respectively. Most patients (86%) had radiographic change from category 1 or 2 directly to category 4. Conclusion: Silicosis progressed at a relatively high rate among tunnel workers without further silica exposure. The high probability of progression directly from category 1 to category 4 may lead to further investigation for the improvement of disease prevention.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 142–148)
Objectives: Semicircular lipoatrophy (SL) is an emerging occupational pathology. Its etiology is poorly understood. We intend to establish the probable risk factors and estimate the relative risk. Methods: A case-control study was performed. Our company had 55 diagnosed cases. As controls, we used the 3 closest healthy coworkers to each case. We calculated the chi square, odds ratio and logistic regression for different exposures, during the 3 years from September 2007 to August 2010. Results: There was 100% participation for the cases and 70.9% for the controls (ratio 1 : 2.1 case-control). The only risk variables found were female gender (p<0.02) and exposure to leaning on the edge of a table (p<0.01). In addition, a breakdown by sex objectifies a much stronger association with leaning on the edge of a table in women (p<0.01) than men (p 0.67). Conclusions: Female gender and leaning on the edge of a table (repeated microtrauma), especially in women, are risk factors for development of SL. Other variables seem to be confounding factors associated with female gender. There were no SL cases showing statistically significant relations with history of cancer or autoimmune diseases. There was also no significance with regard to wearing jeans. There is therefore a new risk for office staff in addition to the more traditional disorders (musculoskeletal, ocular, and psychosocial). Further studies are necessary to evaluate what we consider an underdiagnosed condition, since there is a large percentage of people that are potentially exposed and we found very little information in the literature on the matter.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 149–157)
Background: Physicians are frequently studied as a population that experiences extremely high stress, burnout, and prolonged working hours that might harm one's health. However, they have sound medical knowledge and have easy access to medical resources. We studied the incidence of cancer among Taiwanese physicians using a nationwide cohort study design. Methods: Data were obtained from the National Health Insurance (NHI) system in Taiwan. The physician cohort contained 22,309 physicians, and each physician was randomly frequency-matched according to age and sex with 4 people from the general population. Results: The overall incidence ratio of cancer was 27% lower in the physician cohort than in the nonphysician comparison cohort (33.9 vs. 46.5 people per 10,000 person-years, crude hazard ratio (HR)=0.73, 95% CI=0.70, 0.76). The adjusted HR was 0.78 (95% CI=0.72, 0.84). Female physicians experienced a higher incidence rate ratio of overall cancer, compared to male physicians (crude HR=1.17, 95% CI=1.03, 1.33 vs. crude HR=0.70, 95% CI=0.67, 0.74, respectively). Physicians were at a significantly higher risk of thyroid cancer (HR 1.75, 95% CI=1.14, 2.68), prostate cancer (HR=1.54, 95% CI=1.21, 1.97), breast cancer (HR=1.45, 95% CI=1.00, 2.09), and non-cervical gynecological cancer (HR=4.03, 95% CI=1.77, 9.17), compared with the general population. Conclusions: Physicians are at lower overall risk of cancer than the general population, apart from cancer of the thyroid, prostate, breast, and non-cervical gynecological cancer.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 158–166)
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of sustained computer keyboard typing on the human musculoskeletal system by assessing the pressure-pain threshold (PPT), scapular position and activation of the upper trapezius. Methods: Vertical and horizontal positional changes of the scapular were measured with a palpation meter before and after keyboard work, and the PPT was measured using a pressure algometer. Activation of the upper trapezius during 20 minutes of computer keyboard work was measured by electromyography, and four consecutive 5-minute segments were analyzed. Results: The vertical distance from the seventh cervical process to the acromion, and the horizontal distance from the inferior angle to the same level of the spinal process were significantly increased after keyboard typing work compared with before keyboard typing work (p<0.05). The average value of the upper trapezius activity increased with increased time at the keyboard. The percent reference voluntary contraction of phase 1 (from start to 5 minutes) was lower than those of phase 2 (from 5 to 10 minutes), and phase 3 (from 10 to 15 minutes) (p<0.05). Conclusions: We observed that sustained computer work changed the scapular position in the stretched upper trapezius. To prevent musculoskeletal problems in the shoulder region, posture reeducation during computer work should be considered in terms not only of neck and trunk posture, but also of scapular position.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 167–172)
Objectives: Improvement of psychosocial work environment has proved to be valuable for workers’ mental health. However, limited evidence is available for the effectiveness of participatory interventions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect on mental health among nurses of a participatory intervention to improve the psychosocial work environment. Methods: A cluster randomized controlled trial was conducted in hospital settings. A total of 434 nurses in 24 units were randomly allocated to 11 intervention units (n=183) and 13 control units (n=218). A participatory program was provided to the intervention units for 6 months. Depressive symptoms as mental health status and psychosocial work environment, assessed by the Job Content Questionnaire, the Effort-Reward Imbalance Questionnaire, and the Quality Work Competence questionnaire, were measured before and immediately after the 6-month intervention by a self-administered questionnaire. Results: No significant intervention effect was observed for mental health status. However, significant intervention effects were observed in psychosocial work environment aspects, such as Coworker Support (p<0.01) and Goals (p<0.01), and borderline significance was observed for Job Control (p<0.10). Conclusions: It is suggested that a 6-month participatory intervention is effective in improving psychosocial work environment, but not mental health, among Japanese nurses.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 173–183)
Objective: Perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) have been shown to accumulate in the human body. The purpose of the present study was to examine the factors associated with the blood levels of PFOS and PFOA. Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on 307 men and 301 women (aged 16–76 years) living in 15 prefectures in Japan. Blood levels of PFOS and PFOA were measured by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Hepatic enzymes (γ-GTP, GOT, and GPT) and ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (DHA and EPA) levels in serum were also measured. Associations between the levels of PFOS and PFOA in blood and the intake frequency of 41 kinds of dishes, foods and beverages and the serum levels of liver enzymes and ω-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids were examined using rank correlations. Results: Frequency of intake of boiled fish in broth, sliced raw fish and coastal fish showed significant positive correlations with PFOS concentrations in blood after adjustments for potential confounders. Serum levels of GOT, GPT, DHA and EPA showed significant positive correlations with PFOS and PFOA in blood. There was also a significant regional difference in the blood levels of PFOS and 2013PFOA, with medians being highest in the Tokai/Hokuriku/Kinki region. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the concentrations of PFOS in blood were mainly associated with fish consumption and that the levels of PFOS and PFOA were associated with the serum levels of liver enzymes in Japanese populations. Further investigations are required to clarify the reason for the regional differences in blood levels of PFOS and PFOA in Japan.
Objectives: Several reports suggest that chronic pesticide exposure may affect semen quality and male fertility in humans. The objective of this study was to evaluate the association between occupational exposure to organophosphate (OP) and carbamate (CB) pesticides and semen quality, as well as levels of reproductive and thyroid hormones of Venezuelan farm workers. Methods: Thirty-five healthy men (unexposed group) and 64 male agricultural workers (exposed group) were recruited for clinical evaluation of fertility status. Fresh semen samples were evaluated for sperm quality and analyzed for DNA fragmentation index (DFI) by flow cytometry. Pesticide exposure was assessed by measuring erythrocyte acetylcholinesterase (AChE) and plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE) with a Test-mate ChE field kit. Serum levels of total testosterone (Tt), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin (PRL), thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and free thyroxine (FT4) were analyzed using enzyme immunoassay kits. Results: Evidence of pesticide exposure was found in 87.5% of farmers based on AChE and BuChE inhibition. Significant increments were observed in sperm DFI with significant decreases in some semen parameters. DFI was negatively correlated with BuChE, sperm concentration, morphology and vitality in these workers. The levels of Tt, PRL, FT4 and TSH appeared to be normal; however, there was a tendency for increased LH and FSH levels in exposed workers. Conclusions: Our results confirm the potential impact of chronic occupational exposure to OP/CB pesticides on male reproductive function, which may cause damage to sperm chromatin, decrease semen quality and produce alterations in reproductive hormones, leading to adverse reproductive health outcomes.
Objectives: Noise is probably the most common occupational hazard facing workers today. This paper presents a model to evaluate and select a unit as the first priority for implementing noise control measures from the different parts of an industrial complex. Methods: For this purpose, a formula was proposed as a priority risk index (NCPI) by considering some criteria, including: the number of exposed workers in each part, their exposure times and the range of sound pressure level. The above criteria were weighed by appending weighting factors, which can be different based upon the environmental noise levels. The environmental noise measurements were also carried out by lattice method according to ISO 9612:2009. At the next stage, the numbers of stations that fell within the desired ranges in the weighting factors table were found. then the priorities were identified using the above criteria and the NCPI. Results: The results indicate that the compression unit of air plant had the highest score among the different departments of the company under study (NCPI=0.3). Using this model is easy and fast. It is applicable to similar industries and also offers valuable information for prioritizing noise control measures. Conclusions: Therefore, it will be possible to minimize worker exposure to noise in the most polluted places in any industry by identifying the main noise sources and implementing measures suitable for controlling the risk.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 204-210)
Work-related musculoskeletal injuries (WMSIs) are common in both developed and third world countries. Most researchers agree that exposure to ergonomic risk factors is a major contributor to these injuries. Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of and ergonomic risk factors associated with WMSIs amongst underground mine workers in Kitwe, Zambia. Methods: A cross-sectional quantitative study was conducted using a sample size of 500 workers. A stratified random sampling method according to mining work activity type was used to obtain the sample. Data was collected by means of a structured questionnaire, and the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to analyze data using descriptive and inferential statistical methods. Results were significant at 5%. Results: A response rate of 40.4% (202) was obtained. The 12-month prevalence of WMSIs was 42.6%. The mean age of the workers was 40.31 years (SD +/− 8.57 years). Electricians and mechanics reported the highest injury frequencies. The back was the most affected body part. Ergonomic risk factors consistently reported by workers included poor postures and heavy lifting. There were significant (p=0.020) associations between working with the back bent and sustaining a back injury. Significant (p=0.049) associations were also found between injuries of the wrists/hands and grasping an unsupported object(s). Conclusions: This study revealed significant associations between WMSIs and ergonomic risk factors like working with the back bent and grasping objects.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 211−217)
Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate whether sedentary job role and gender are reflected by sedentary risk factors within a university campus. Methods: Following institutional ethical approval, 80 UK university campus employees were recruited, and 34 of them (age 47.8 ± 11.9 years, height 169 ± 1.0 cm, body mass 72.0 ± 14.1 kg) were measured for their systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), blood glucose (Glu), total serum blood cholesterol (Cho), dominant (DHG) and nondominant handgrip strength (NHG), body fat percentage (Fat%), trunk flexibility (Flex), peak cardiorespiratory capacity (V.O2max), and answered a physical activity questionnaire (IPAQ). The data were analyzed using two-way ANOVA with job role and gender as independent factors, and each measured risk as a dependent factor. Results: Gender had significant effects (p<0.05), and males demonstrated higher Glu, SBP, DBP and BMI than females (p<0.05). Females had higher Flex and Fat%, and lower DHG and NHG (p<0.05). Job role neither affected measured risk factors nor interacted with gender. However, both groups demonstrated high BMI, Fat% and Glu values, with these risk factors being above the recommended healthy thresholds. IPAQ hours correlated positively with Glu (p<0.05) but with none of the remaining tests. Conclusions: Sedentary risk factors are prevalent within university employees irrespective of job role but not irrespective of gender. The results may provide a baseline for initiating tailored organizational targeted policies aimed at reducing sedentary risk factors associated with the university workplace.(J Occup Health 2013; 55: 218–224)