Objectives: To examine the effect of autism spectrum (AS) tendencies and psychosocial job characteristics on health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among factory workers. Methods: A questionnaire survey was administered to 376 Japanese factory employees from the same company (response rate: 83.6%) in 2010. Psychosocial job characteristics, including job demand, job control, and social support, were evaluated using the Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ). AS tendencies was assessed using the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ), and HRQOL was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form General Health Survey (SF-8). Associations were investigated using multiple logistic regression analysis adjusted for confounders. Results: In the multivariate analysis, AQ was positively (odds ratio [OR]: 3.94; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.70–9.73) and social support in the workplace was inversely (OR: 0.25; 95% CI: 0.10–0.57) associated with poor mental HRQOL. No significant interaction was observed between AQ and JCQ subitems. Only social support was inversely associated with poor physical HRQOL (OR and 95% CI for medium social support: 0.45 and 0.21–0.94), and a significant interaction between AQ and job control was observed (p=0.02), suggesting that high job control was associated with poor physical HRQOL among workers with high AQ, whereas low job control tended to be associated with poor physical HRQOL among others. Conclusions: Our results suggest that AS tendencies have a negative effect on workers' HRQOL and social support is a primary factor in maintaining HRQOL. Moreover, a structured work environment can maintain physical HRQOL in workers with high AS tendencies since higher job control will be stressful.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 419–426)
Objectives: This study investigated effects of workers' cultural and personal characteristics on the relationship between workplace mistreatment and health problems in both South Korea and EU Countries. Methods: Data were obtained from nationally representative interview surveys: the third Korean Working Conditions Survey (KWCS) in 2011 (50,032 participants) and fifth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) in 2010 (41,302 participants). The Pressure-State-Response model was adapted to explore differences in the relationship between mistreatment and health problems according to country, and logistic regression analysis was used after stratification of moderating factors. Workplace mistreatment, such as discrimination, violence, harassment, and self-reported health problems, were assessed by gender and educational level. Results: Among KWCS participants, there were 4,321 victims (14.70%) of workplace mistreatment; among EWCS participants, there were 5,927 victims (17.89%). There was a significant positive association between workplace mistreatment and self-reported health problems. A stronger association was found among workers with higher educational levels in Korea (2- to 4-fold higher odds for mental and physical health problems), but there was no significant difference by education level in workers of EU Countries. Female Koreans who worked alone had a higher risk of health problems related to workplace mistreatment than other gender compositions in the workplace (the OR for psychological symptoms reached 6.631). In contrast, the gender composition of the work place did not significantly affect EU workers. Conclusions: Workplace mistreatment is significantly associated with physical and mental health problems, especially among workers with higher educational levels and females who work alone in Korea.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 427–437)
Objectives: Irregular sleep patterns can adversely affect physiological functions and have been associated with increased physiological and psychological stress. Nocturnal work of physicians during 24-hour on-call shifts (OCS) disrupts the sleep/wake cycle. Chronic exposure to distress has been shown to affect cardiovascular homeostasis and to impair performance in neurocognitive and simulated clinical tasks. Methods: In a prospective cohort study, biochemical and physiological stress parameters were assessed in 11 female and 9 male physicians (median age: 32 years, range 26–42 years) before a normal working day and after a 24-hour OCS in internal medicine. In addition, various tests of attentional performance (TAP) were conducted. Results: The levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) were significantly higher after a 24- hour OCS, while there were no significant changes in cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine levels. Heart rate variability and skin resistance increased following an OCS, although the differences were not statistically significant. Intrinsic alertness was comparable, while phasic alertness was significantly improved following a 24-hour OCS. Focused attention tended to be better following a night shift. There was no correlation with age or medical working experience; however, men experienced more stress than women. Conclusions: Following a 24-hour OCS, (i) TSH may be an early and sensitive biochemical predictor of stress; (ii) other classical biochemical stress parameters do not depict the psychological stress perceived by physicians; (iii) there may be a mismatch between experienced and objective stress levels; (iv) neurocognitive functions are not impaired, while performance may even be improved; and (v) men might be more sensitive to distress.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 438–447)
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between job characteristics and musculoskeletal pain among shift workers employed at a 24-hour poultry processing plant in Southern Brazil. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of 1,103 production line workers aged 18–52 years. The job characteristics of interest were shift (day/night), shift duration, and plant sector ambient temperature. Musculoskeletal pain was defined as self-reported occupational-related pain in the upper or lower extremities and trunk, occurring often or always, during the last 12 months. Results: The mean (SD) participant age was 30.8 (8.5) years, and 65.7% of participants were women. The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was greater among female participants than male participants. After adjustment for job characteristics and potential confounders, the prevalence ratios (PR) of lower extremity musculoskeletal pain among female workers employed in extreme-temperature conditions those working the night shift, and those who had been working longer on the same shift were 1.75 (95% CI 1.12, 2.71), 1.69 (95% CI 1.05, 2.70), and 1.64 (95% CI 1.03, 2.62), respectively. In male workers, only extreme-temperature conditions showed a significant association with lower extremity musculoskeletal pain (PR=2.17; 95% CI 1.12, 4.22) after adjustment analysis. Conclusions: These findings suggest a need for implementation of measures to mitigate the damage caused by nighttime work and by working under extreme temperature conditions, especially among female shift workers, such as changing positions frequently during work and implementation of rest breaks and a workplace exercise program, so as to improve worker quality of life.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 448–456)
Objectives: Long working hours may impact human health. In Japan, teachers tend to work long hours. From 2002 to 2012, the number of leaves of absence due to diseases other than mental disorders, or mental disorders among public school teachers increased by 1.3 times (from 2,616 to 3,381), or 1.8 times (from 2,687 to 4,960), respectively. The present study aimed to investigate the association between long working hours and sleep problems among public school teachers. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from mid-July to September 2013 in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan. Questionnaires were distributed to 1,245 teachers in public junior high schools. Information about basic characteristics including working hours, and responses to the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index were collected anonymously. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) for the association between long working hours and sleep problems separately by sex. Results: The response rate was 44.8% (n=558). After excluding ineligible responses, the final sample comprised 515 teachers (335 males and 180 females). Sleep problems was identified in 41.5% of males and 44.4% of females. Our results showed a significantly increased risk of sleep problems in males working >60 hours per week (OR 2.05 [95% CI 1.01–4.30]) compared with those working ≤40 hours per week. No significant association was found in females. Conclusions: There is a significant association between long working hours and sleep problems in male teachers. Reducing working hours may contribute to a reduction in sleep problems.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 457‱464)
Objectives: The present study aimed to describe the prevalence, type, and influencing factors of occupational injuries of staff working at special schools with multiple and severely handicapped pupils in Southwestern Germany. Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out between August 2010 and August 2012 at 13 special schools with focus on motoric and/or holistic development of handicapped pupils in Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany). Participants were interviewed using a written questionnaire. Results: There were 395 participants (response proportion: 59.7%) in our study, with 390 being eligible for statistical analysis. Respondents were on average 45 years old and mainly female (86.9%). The 12-month injury prevalence was 16.9%. Joint dislocations, sprains, and torn ligaments (41.6%) were the main types of injuries. Pupils (59.8%) and auxiliary equipment (12.2%) were identified as the main causes of injury by the respondents. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that washing pupils (using auxiliary equipment) (aOR, 3.93; 95% CI, 1.66–9.31) and daily physical strain due to unexpected conduct of pupils (aOR, 3.70; 95% CI, 1.20–11.37) were the main influencing factors for an occupational injury. Conclusions: Almost one in five persons suffered an occupational injury in the previous 12 months. Nursing activities, including close contact with pupils, were identified as the most important factors for an injury. In order to prevent injuries at special schools, a multifaceted approach is necessary. This includes sufficient supply of auxiliary devices including proper technical maintenance. Furthermore, regular participation in training for manual handling of heavy loads and schooling on the technical use of auxiliary devices should be encouraged.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 465–473)
Objectives: Young adults entering employment are a key group in extending work careers, but there is a lack of research on trends in work ability among young employees. Prolonged sickness absence (SA) constitutes a risk for permanent work disability. We examined 12-year trends in SA spells among young female and male municipal employees. Methods: The data were obtained from the employers' registers in the City of Helsinki, Finland. The data included employees aged 18–24, 25–29, 30–34, and 35–54 from 2002 to 2013 (the average number for each year was 31,600). Self-certified (1–3 days) and medically certified intermediate (4–14 days) and long (15+ days) SAs were examined. Joinpoint regression models were used to identify major changes in SA trends. Results: Younger employees had more short SAs but fewer long SAs than older employees. During the study period, SAs of almost any length first increased and later decreased among both genders, except for young men. The turning points for short SA were in 2007–2011 among younger and older employees. In intermediate and long SAs the respective turning points were in 2008–2009 and 2005–2009. Women had more SAs in all categories. Conclusions: Age is related to the length of absences. Given the relatively low chronic morbidity among younger employees, it is likely that reasons other than ill health account for increased SA. More evidence on factors behind the changing trends is needed in order to reduce SA and extend the working careers of young people.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 474–481)
Objectives: About 160 patients in Japan were infected with dengue virus by mosquito's bites in the summer and autumn of 2014. In this report, I describe a case of occupational dengue virus infection by needle-stick injury from the 1990s to alert health-care workers to the fact that dengue virus is among the causative agents responsible for occupational infectious disease even in Japan. Case: A Japanese female in her thirties, a nurse at our hospital in Tokyo, was admitted to our hospital in January 1992 three days after the onset of fever, headache, and general malaise. She had never been overseas. Five days before the onset of her symptoms, she had pricked her finger with an injection needle used to draw blood from a febrile patient infected with dengue virus. She was diagnosed with dengue virus infection based on three findings: detection of the dengue virus genome in serum, isolation of dengue virus from serum, and serum samples positive for IgM antibodies against dengue virus. Conclusions: The patient contracted dengue virus infection via a needle-stick injury at our hospital. Although this occurred more than two decades ago, in 1992, health-care workers should still be mindful of the risk of dengue virus infection via needle-stick injury even in Japan.(J Occup Health 2015; 57: 482–483)
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