Objectives: We developed a standardized cost estimation method for occupational health (OH) services. The purpose of this study was to set reference OH services costs and to conduct OH services cost management assessments in two workplaces by comparing actual OH services costs with the reference costs. Methods: Data were obtained from retrospective analyses of OH services costs regarding 15 OH activities over a 1-year period in three manufacturing workplaces. We set the reference OH services costs in one of the three locations and compared OH services costs of each of the two other workplaces with the reference costs. Results: The total reference OH services cost was 176,654 Japanese yen (JPY) per employee. The personnel cost for OH staff to conduct OH services was JPY 47,993, and the personnel cost for non-OH staff was JPY 38,699. The personnel cost for receipt of OH services-opportunity cost-was JPY 19,747, expense was JPY 25,512, depreciation expense was 34,849, and outsourcing cost was JPY 9,854. We compared actual OH services costs from two workplaces (the total OH services costs were JPY 182,151 and JPY 238,023) with the reference costs according to OH activity. The actual costs were different from the reference costs, especially in the case of personnel cost for non-OH staff, expense, and depreciation expense. Conclusions: Using our cost estimation tool, it is helpful to compare actual OH services cost data with reference cost data. The outcomes help employers make informed decisions regarding investment in OH services.
Objectives: Occupational asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are associated with the airway inflammatory process. The aim of this study was to compare the sputum and serum markers of inflammation in patients with occupational asthma and COPD. Methods: The study group included 20 patients with stable COPD, 24 patients with asthma, and 22 healthy subjects. Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 levels in serum and induced sputum as well as fibrinogen and CRP in serum were determined in all the subjects. Results: Higher concentrations of IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α, and MMP-9 in induced sputum and an increased concentration of acute-phase proteins in serum were observed in COPD patients compared with healthy subjects. Higher concentrations of IL-1β and MMP-9 in induced sputum and a higher concentration of C-reactive protein (CRP) were detected in COPD patients than in asthmatic subjects. Never smokers with COPD had significantly higher levels of IL-1β and MMP-9 in induced sputum than never smoker controls. There was no significant difference between the serum and sputum levels of cytokines and MMP-9 of never smokers and smokers with COPD. Conclusions: Higher concentrations of IL-1β and MMP-9 in induced sputum and a higher concentration of CRP in serum allow distinguishing between biomarker profiles of COPD patients and asthmatic patients. Occupational exposure induces a systemic proinflammatory state with increased levels of acute-phase proteins in stable COPD patients. MMP-9 and IL-1β concentrations are increased in induced sputum of never smokers with COPD, which is associated with occupational exposure.
Objective: Working long hours is a potential health hazard. Although self-reporting of working hours in various time frames has been used in epidemiologic studies, its validity is unclear. The objective of this study was to examine the validity and reproducibility of self-reported working hours among Japanese male employees. Methods: The participants were 164 male employees of four large-scale companies in Japan. For validity, the Spearman correlation between self-reported working hours in the second survey and the working hours recorded by the company was calculated for the following four time frames: daily working hours, monthly overtime working hours in the last month, average overtime working hours in the last 3 months, and the frequency of long working months (≥45 h/month) within the last 12 months. For reproducibility, the intraclass correlation between the first (September 2013) and second surveys (December 2013) was calculated for each of the four time frames. Results: The Spearman correlations between self-reported working hours and those based on company records were 0.74, 0.81, 0.85, and 0.89 for daily, monthly, 3-monthly, and yearly time periods, respectively. The intraclass correlations for self-reported working hours between the two questionnaire surveys were 0.63, 0.66, 0.73, and 0.87 for the respective time frames. Conclusions: The results of the present study among Japanese male employees suggest that the validity of self-reported working hours is high for all four time frames, whereas the reproducibility is moderate to high.
Objectives: Although attention has been paid to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among health care professionals after disasters, the impact of traumatic events on their work has not been elucidated. The aim of this study was to examine whether disaster-related distress, resilience, and post-traumatic growth (PTG) affect work engagement among health care professionals who had been deployed to the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011. Methods: We recruited disaster medical assistance team members who were engaged in rescue activities after the earthquake. The short version of the Resilience Scale (RS-14) and Peritraumatic Distress Inventory (PDI) were administered one month after the earthquake, and the short form of Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (SF-PTGI) and Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) were administered four years after the earthquake. Work engagement is composed of vigor, dedication, and absorption. Regression analyses were used to examine the relationship of UWES with RS-14, PDI, and SF-PTGI. Results: We obtained baseline data of 254 participants in April 2011, and 191 (75.2%) completed the follow-up assessment between December 2014 and March 2015. The results showed that RS-14 predicted vigor, dedication, and absorption; in addition, SF-PTGI was positively related with these three parameters (p<0.01 for all). Conclusions: Resilience at baseline and PTG after rescue activities may increase work engagement among health care professionals after disasters. These findings could be useful for establishing a support system after rescue activities during a large-scale disaster and for managing work-related stress among health care professionals.
Objectives: We examined the extent to which changes in worker health, as measured by health checkup items, were associated with increased intensity of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) after controlling for individual time-invariant attributes. Methods: We used panel data from two to four waves of a Japanese occupational cohort survey, focusing on 30,206 observations of 10,106 individuals (7,669 men and 2,437 women) aged 18-76 years. We estimated first-difference and mean-centered fixed effects models to examine how changes in 10 health checkup items were associated with changes in LTPA intensity. We considered four LTPA intensity levels (none, low, moderate, and vigorous), based on self-reported assessments. Results: For men, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, glycated hemoglobin levels, body mass index, and waist circumference improved when LTPA intensity was increased even at a low level, whereas triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and fasting blood glucose levels improved when LTPA intensity was increased to moderate or vigorous levels. Blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) and total cholesterol levels were only modestly responsive to changes in LTPA intensity. For women, blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) and waist circumference were negatively associated with LTPA intensity, whereas the other variables showed more modest effects. Conclusions: The results suggest that even low- to moderate-intensity LTPA can improve health checkup results; however, the lowest LTPA intensity associated with improvement in health depends on health-risk factors as well as gender.
Objectives: This study aimed to determine risk factors that predict musculoskeletal discomfort in Chikan embroiderers of West Bengal, India, and to compare the effect of two rest break schedules to reduce these symptoms. Methods: The Nordic musculoskeletal questionnaire was performed on 400 Chikan embroiderers at baseline containing questions on job autonomy, working behavior, and work stress factors. Relative risk was calculated to identify prognostic factors for musculoskeletal discomfort in different body regions. Two groups of workers received two rest break schedules for 4 months and compared in a between-subject design. Outcome variables were scores of Body Part Discomfort (BPD) scale. Results: Chikan embroiderers are afflicted with musculoskeletal discomfort mainly in the lower back, neck/shoulder and wrist/forearm region, which is attributed to their prolonged working timeinvolving hands and wrists, being in a static seating posture. Rigidity in working methods, prolonged working time, inadequate rest break during the working day, dissatisfaction regarding earning, monotonous work, static sitting posture, and repetitive movement of wrist and forearm were the significant predictors of these symptom developments. Rest break schedule 1 with more frequent and shorter breaks had more significant improvement on the severity of these musculoskeletal discomforts. Conclusions: Chikan embroiderers perform a highly dreary occupation and various ergonomics conditions work as predictors for developing musculoskeletal discomforts among them. Design of proper rest break schedule involving shorter and frequent breaks was competent for reducing these discomforts to a certain extent.
Objectives: To study expression changes in inflammation-related genes in peripheral blood of patients with pneumoconiosis and to explore the possibility of these genes as pneumoconiosis biomarkers. Methods: Peripheral blood samples of patients with pneumoconiosis patients and controls were collected, and total RNA of the blood cells were extracted and reverse transcribed to cDNA. Screenings of deferentially expressed genes associated with inflammation between patients with pneumoconiosis and controls were performed using real-time quantitative PCR array and the expressions of the three most upregulated genes were confirmed by real-time PCR. Results: The expression of 11 genes was significantly altered in patients with pneumoconiosis compared with those of the control. Among these 11 genes, 8 genes were upregulated and 3 were downregulated. Preliminary results indicated that interleukin 6 (IL-6) mRNA expression in patients with pneumoconiosis was higher than that in controls (P=0.019). The level of IL6 mRNA expression in the patients was higher than that in non-smoking controls, but it was neither affected by type and stage of pneumoconiosis nor by time of contact with dust. Conclusions: IL6 was possibly involved in the development of pneumoconiosis.
Introduction: Occupational allergy to rodents among laboratory animal workers is common. Most patients generally experience allergic symptoms after the first few years of work. Associated symptoms are usually mild, such as rhinoconjunctivits, urticaria, and asthma. Anaphylaxis, although rare, could be severe and life threatening. Methods: We have described in this study two cases of laboratory workers that developed skin and respiratory reactions following laboratory rat and mouse bites, consistent with anaphylaxis. Results: Skin testing was found positive for rat epithelium in the patient with anaphylaxis due to rat bite. Elevated levels of specific IgE antibodies against rat and mouse epitheliums were also detected in both the patients. Conclusion: These cases illustrate a severe hypersensitivity reaction that could potentially occur in occupational workers that are in close contact with rodents. Reduction of allergen exposure, regular screening, and job modification could be beneficial for affected individuals. Health care workers should be made aware that anaphylaxis could be a serious consequence of laboratory animal bites, particularly in those already sensitized.