Objectives: This article aims to review the current prevalence rate of latex allergy among healthcare workers, susceptible patients, and the general public, and to investigate why latex is still a ubiquitous occupational health hazard. Methods: Scientific publications on PubMed, particularly those published within the last five years, and current regulations from agencies such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were reviewed. Consumer and commercial products that may contain latex were also surveyed. Results: Approximately 12 million tons of natural rubber latex is produced annually and is widely used to manufacture millions of consumer and commercial products. Only limited number of latex-derived products have been approved and regulated by government agencies, such as FDA, whereas the majority of finished products do not label whether they contain latex. Owing to millions of unidentifiable products containing latex and many routes for exposure to latex, preventing contact with latex allergens and reducing the prevalence of latex allergy are more difficult than expected. Reported data suggest that the average prevalence of latex allergy worldwide remains 9.7%, 7.2%, and 4.3% among healthcare workers, susceptible patients, and general population, respectively. Conclusions: Latex-derived products are ubiquitous, and latex allergy remains a highly prevalent health risk in many occupations and to the general population. Developing alternative materials and increasing the ability to identify and label latex-derived products will be practicable approaches to effectively control the health risks associated with latex.
Objectives: The effect of anthropometric factors on the fingertip vibrotactile perception threshold (VPT) of industrial vibrating tool operators (IVTOs) is not well known. The purpose of this study was to investigate the associations between anthropometric factors and fingertip VPT. Methods: We included for analysis two groups of IVTOs: Group 1, predominantly forestry workers (n=325); and Group 2, public servants (n=68). These IVTOs regularly received medical examinations to evaluate hand-arm vibration syndrome. In the examination, measurements of their fingertip VPTs were taken before and after cold-water immersion (10 minutes at 10°C for Group 1 and 5 minutes at 12°C for Group 2). Their body height and weight were measured to calculate the body mass index (BMI). The presence of peripheral neuropathy (PN) was defined as a VPT ≥17.5 dB at 10 minutes after finishing immersion. Results: In the univariate analysis, weight and BMI were associated with a decreased risk of PN in both Groups 1 and 2. The negative association between BMI and PN remained in the multivariate analysis consistently, but weight reached marginal significance only in the multivariate analysis without BMI in both the groups. Age was positively associated with PN consistently in Group 1 but not in Group 2. Years exposed to vibration showed positive association with PN only in the univariate analysis of Group 1. Conclusions: Among IVTOs, factors reflecting body heat production, such as weight and BMI, were associated with a decreased risk of VPT-defined PN, regardless of the task engaged.
Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the oral health problems and behavior of full-time male daytime-only and night shift office workers. Methods: The participants were recruited by applying screening procedures to a pool of Japanese registrants in an online database. During the period of 20 February 2015 to 11 March 2015, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about their oral health. A total of 325 daytime-only workers and 351 workers who sometimes worked night shifts, ages 30 to 69, were analyzed in this study. Results: Overall, the mean number of teeth of the night shift workers was lower than that of the daytime-only workers (p=0.002). When analyzed by age group, a significant difference was seen in the 50-69 age group (p=0.016). The percentage of night shift workers with decayed teeth was higher than that of the daytime-only workers (p<0.001). The night shift workers were more likely to report gingival bleeding (p=0.015) and stomatitis (p=0.025) than the daytime-only workers. The percentage of night shift workers reporting frequent brushing behavior was lower than that of the daytime-only workers (p=0.040). The independent variables found to correlate significantly with tooth decay were night shift work (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.20-2.67), current smoking habit (OR, 1.66; 95% CI, 1.13-2.46), and BMI of ≥25 (OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.02-2.39). Conclusions: These results indicate a relationship between night shift work and oral health problems. Night shift workers may require additional support for oral health maintenance.
Objectives: To test the predictive value and convergent construct validity of a 6-item work functioning screener (WFS-H). Methods: Healthcare workers (249 nurses) completed a questionnaire containing the work functioning screener (WFS-H) and a work functioning instrument (NWFQ) measuring the following: cognitive aspects of task execution and general incidents, avoidance behavior, conflicts and irritation with colleagues, impaired contact with patients and their family, and level of energy and motivation. Productivity and mental health were also measured. Negative and positive predictive values, AUC values, and sensitivity and specificity were calculated to examine the predictive value of the screener. Correlation analysis was used to examine the construct validity. Results: The screener had good predictive value, since the results showed that a negative screener score is a strong indicator of work functioning not hindered by mental health problems (negative predictive values: 94%-98%; positive predictive values: 21%-36%; AUC:.64-.82; sensitivity: 42%-76%; and specificity 85%-87%). The screener has good construct validity due to moderate, but significant (p<.001), associations with productivity (r=.51), mental health (r=.48), and distress (r=.47). Conclusions: The screener (WFS-H) had good predictive value and good construct validity. Its score offers occupational health professionals a helpful preliminary insight into the work functioning of healthcare workers.
Objectives: n-Hexane, a common industrial organic solvent, causes multiple organ damage, especially neurotoxicity, which is proved to be caused by its metabolite 2,5-hexanedione (2,5-HD). We previously showed that 2,5-HD induced apoptosis of rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs). In the current study, we explored the mechanism of 2,5-HD-induced apoptosis, especially the role played by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Methods: Intracellular ROS levels after 2,5-HD treatment were measured by the dichloro-dihydro-fluorescein diacetate (DCFH-DA) method, and the antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) was used to scavenge ROS. Apoptosis, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), and caspase-3 activity were measured after 2,5-HD exposure with or without NAC pretreatment. Results: In rat BMSCs, 20 mM 2,5-HD significantly increased ROS levels and apoptosis. In addition, MMP activity was decreased and caspase-3 activity was increased. With NAC pretreatment, ROS increases were prevented, cells were rescued from apoptosis, and both MMP and caspase-3 activity returned to normal levels. Western blotting analysis of malondialdehyde-modified proteins and superoxide dismutase (SOD) 1 showed that after 2,5-HD exposure, BMSCs had oxidative damage and abnormal SOD1 expression. These returned to normal when cells were pretreated with NAC in addition to 20 mM 2,5-HD. Furthermore, the expressions of NF-κB p65/RelA and phospho-NF-κB p65/RelA (Ser536) were suppressed after 2,5-HD exposure and restored by NAC pretreatment. Conclusions: 2,5-HD-induced apoptosis in rat BMSCs is potentially mediated by excessive ROS production.
Objectives: To describe the prevalence of sickness absence and to analyze factors associated with the outcome according to gender in a sample of healthcare workers at the Belo Horizonte Health Department. Method: This study was based on a Belo Horizonte Health Department survey carried out between September 2008 and January 2009. From a randomly selected sample of 2,205 workers, 1,808 agreed to participate. Workers were classified into Health Staff or Health Care. Other explanatory variables were social and demographic data, work characteristics, and personal health. The Poisson regression was applied to analyze factors associated with sickness absence by the prevalence ratio (PR). Results: The overall prevalence of sickness absence was 31.5% (23.8% for men and 34.6% for women). In the final model, we found higher rates of sickness absence in both male and female workers involved in tasks with high psychosocial demands (PR=1.86 men; PR=1.38 women) and in those that reported using medication for treating chronic diseases (PR=1.96 men; PR=1.50 women). Women having a permanent job contract had a higher prevalence of sickness absence than those having a temporary job contract (PR=1.71). Conclusion: Our findings suggest a paradox in how healthcare is organized: good results in terms of its global objective of providing healthcare for citizens contrast with lack of effective measures for protecting healthcare workers.
Objectives: To reveal the effect of age and other factors on perceived anxiety over radiation exposure among decontamination workers in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. Methods: A survey questionnaire was sent to 1505 workers, with questions regarding age, presence of a written employment contract, previous residence, radiation passbook ownership, presence of close persons for consultation, knowledge of how to access public assistance, and a four-point scale of radiation-related anxiety (1= "Very much," 2= "Somewhat," 3= "A little bit," and 4= "None" ). The relationships between the degree of anxiety and variables were analyzed using the chi-square test and residual analysis. Results: In all, 512 participants responded to the questionnaire. The mean age of participants was 46.2 years (SD: 13.1, range: 18-77). Of them, 50, 233, 168, and 61 workers chose "Very much," "Somewhat," "A little bit," and "None," respectively, on the anxiety scale. Chi-square test showed that participants aged 61 years and over had higher degrees of anxiety (p<0.001). Ordinal logistic regression showed that the degree of anxiety increased if they did not have a written contract (p=0.042) or persons to consult (p=0.034) and if they routinely checked the dose rate (p=0.046). Conclusions: Decontamination workers who do not have a written contract or who are in socially isolated situations have greater anxiety over radiation exposure. Thus, it is important to both create supportive human relationships for consultation and enhance labor management in individual companies.
Objectives: The sum of urinary inorganic arsenic (iAs), monomethylarsonic acid (MMA), and dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) concentrations is used for the biological monitoring of occupational iAs exposure. Although DMA is a major metabolite of iAs, it is an inadequate index because high DMA levels are present in urine after seafood consumption. We estimated the urinary iAs+MMA concentration corresponding to iAs exposure. Methods: We used data from two arsenic speciation analyses of urine samples from 330 Bangladeshi with oral iAs exposure and 172 Japanese workers without occupational iAs exposure using high-performance liquid chromatography with inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Results: iAs, MMA, and DMA, but not arsenobetaine (AsBe), were detected in the urine of the Bangladeshi subjects. The correlation between iAs+MMA+DMA and iAs+MMA was obtained as log (iAs+MMA) = 1.038 log (iAs+MMA+DMA) -0.658. Using the regression formula, the iAs+MMA value was calculated as 2.15 and 7.5 μg As/l, corresponding to 3 and 10 μg As/m3 of exposures, respectively. In the urine of the Japanese workers, arsenic was mostly excreted as AsBe. We used the 95th percentile of iAs+MMA (12.6 μg As/l) as the background value. The sum of the calculated and background values can be used as a biological indicator of iAs exposure. Conclusion: We propose 14.8 and 20.1 μg As/l of urinary iAs+MMA as the biological indicators of 3 and 10 μg As/m3 iAs exposure, respectively.
Objectives: This study aimed to determine the extent of implementation of occupational safety and health measures in micro-scale enterprises (MSEs) and to assess the prevalence of occupational injuries and accidents and its relationship with occupational safety and health measures provided in the MSEs. Method: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 595 of MSEs. An index called the Safety and Health Requirement Index (SHRI) was created and used to calculate the percentage of provided occupational safety and health measures. The relationship between the SHRI and the occurrence of occupational accidents and injuries was investigated with the independent samples t-test and one-way ANOVA. Results: The mean SHRI score was 60.43%, which was categorized into moderate level. Of the 30.9% of enterprises that had experienced accidents and injuries, the most common types of injuries were musculoskeletal disorders and cuts, and the least common types were pulmonary and hearing problems. Results of one-way ANOVA revealed a statistically significant relationship between the mean SHRI score and industrial branch, enterprise size, and type of accident and injury. The independent samples t-test showed that the occurrence of occupational accidents and injuries was not significantly influenced by provided health and safety measures in MSEs. Conclusion: Given the high percentage of enterprises with very poor to poor levels for the SHRI and the high prevalence of occupational accidents and injuries among the studied MSEs, feasible protective strategies and job safety training programs are required to promote occupational health and safety in the studied MSEs.
Objectives: The informal sector is the dominant area of employment and the economy for any developing country including Bangladesh. The cost of productivity loss due to absence from work or presenteeism with illness has rarely been examined in the Bangladesh context. This current study, therefore, attempted to examine the impact of ill health of informal sector workers on labor productivity, future earning, and healthcare-related expenditure. Methodology: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among three occupational groups of informal workers (rickshaw pullers, shopkeepers and restaurant workers) that were generally found in all urban areas in Bangladesh. A total of 557 informal workers were surveyed for this study. Results: Most of the respondents (57%) reported that they had been affected by some type of illness for the last six months. The overall average healthcare expenditure of informal workers was US$48.34, while restaurant workers expended more (US$53.61). Self reported sickness absenteeism was highest (50.37days) in the case of shop keepers, followed by rickshaw pullers (49.31 days), in the last six months. Considering the income loss due to illness in the past six months, the rickshaw pullers were exposed to the highest income loss (US$197.15), followed by the shop keepers (US$151.39). Conclusions: Although the informal sector contributes the most to the economy of Bangladesh, the workers in this sector have hardly any financial protection. This study provides critical clues to providing financial and social protection to informal sector workers in Bangladesh.
Individuals in employment experience stress at work, and numerous epidemiological studies have documented its negative health effects, particularly on cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although evidence on the various interrelationships between work stress and CVD has been accumulated, those observations have not yet been conceptualized in terms of a life course perspective. Using the chain of risk model, we would like to propose a theoretical model incorporating six steps: (1) work stress increases the risk of incident CVD in healthy workers. (2) Among those whose work ability is not fully and permanently damaged, work stress acts as a determinant of the process of return to work after CVD onset. (3) CVD patients experience higher work stress after return to work. (4) Work stress increases the risk of recurrent CVD in workers with prior CVD. (5) CVD patients who fully lose their work ability transit to disability retirement. (6) Disability retirees due to CVD have an elevated risk of CVD mortality. The life course perspective might facilitate an in-depth understanding of the diverse interrelationships between work stress and CVD, thereby leading to work stress management interventions at each period of the lifespan and three-level prevention of CVD.
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