Industry Derived Occupational Exposure Limits: A Survey of Professionals on the Dutch System of Exposure Guidelines
Semiconductor Work and Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Associated with Male Workers: A Retrospective Cohort Study
Weight of epidemiological evidence for titanium dioxide risk assessment: current state and further needs
Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, Published online: 16 August 2019; doi:10.1038/s41370-019-0161-2Weight of epidemiological evidence for titanium dioxide risk assessment: current state and further needs
Verbal abuse against home care aides: another shot across the bow in violence against health care and other workers
It is disconcerting that while physical assault is perceived as a major consequence of work-related violence, non-physical violence—which includes threats, sexual harassment, verbal abuse and bullying—may result in even greater burdens for the victims.1–4 In particular, verbal abuse involving another person yelling or swearing, engaging in name calling or using other words intended to control or hurt has consistently been reported as the most common form of workplace violence.1 2 4 5 This is particularly the case in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector which is at highest risk of non-fatal violence in the USA and a major problem globally.3 4
The problem of verbal abuse is especially highlighted by Karlsson et al6 from their occupational study of home care aides7 who constitute an...
Web-based decision aid tool for disclosure of a mental health condition in the workplace: a randomised controlled trial
Making decisions about disclosing a mental illness in the workplace is complicated. Decision aid tools are designed to help an individual make a specific choice. We developed a web-based decision aid to help inform decisions about disclosure for employees. This study aimed to examine the efficacy of this tool.Method
We conducted a randomised controlled trial with recruitment, randomisation and data collection all online. Participants had access to the intervention for 2 weeks. Assessments occurred at baseline, postintervention and 6 weeks’ follow-up. The primary outcome was decisional conflict. Secondary outcomes were stage and satisfaction of decision-making and mental health symptoms.Results
107 adult employees were randomised to READY (n=53) or the control (n=54). The sample was predominantly female (83.2%). Participants using READY showed greater reduction in decisional conflict at postintervention (F(1,104)=16.8, p<0.001) (d=0.49, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.9) and follow-up (F(1,104)=23.6, p<0.001) (d=0.61, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.9). At postintervention the READY group were at a later stage of decision-making (F(1,104)=6.9, p=0.010) which was sustained, and showed a greater reduction in depressive symptoms (F(1,104)=6.5, p=0.013). Twenty-eight per cent of READY users disclosed, and reported a greater improvement in mental health than those who did not disclose.Conclusions
READY provides a confidential, flexible and effective tool to enhance employee’s decision-making about disclosure. Its use led to a comparative improvement in depressive symptoms compared with the current information provided by a leading mental health non-governmental organisation, without apparent harm. READY seems worth evaluating in other settings and, if these results are replicated, scaling for wider use.Trial registration number
Study carcinogenicity of inorganic lead, classified as ‘probably carcinogenic’ to humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (brain, lung, kidney and stomach).Methods
We conducted internal and external analyses for cancer incidence in two cohorts of 29 874 lead-exposed workers with past blood lead data (Finland, n=20 752, Great Britain=9122), with 6790 incident cancers. Exposure was maximum measured blood lead.Results
The combined cohort had a median maximum blood lead of 29 μg/dL, a mean first blood lead test of 1977, and was 87% male. Significant (p<0.05) positive trends, using the log of maximum blood lead, were found for brain cancer (malignant), Hodgkin’s lymphoma, lung cancer and rectal cancer, while a significant negative trend was found for melanoma. Borderline significant positive trends (0.05≤p≤0.10) were found for oesophageal cancer, meningioma and combined malignant/benign brain cancer. Categorical analyses reflected these trends. Significant interactions by country were found for lung, brain and oesophageal cancer, with Finland showing strong positive trends, and Great Britain showing modest or no trends. Larynx cancer in Finland also showed a positive trend (p=0.05). External analyses for high exposure workers (maximum blood lead >40 μg/dL) showed a significant excess for lung cancer in both countries combined, and significant excesses in Finland for brain and lung cancer. The Great Britain data were limited by small numbers for some cancers, and limited variation in exposure.Conclusions
We found strong positive incidence trends with increasing blood lead level, for several outcomes in internal analysis. Two of these, lung and brain cancer, were sites of a priori interest.
Role of asbestos clearance in explaining long-term risk of pleural and peritoneal cancer: a pooled analysis of cohort studies
Models based on the multistage theory of cancer predict that rates of malignant mesothelioma continuously increase with time since first exposure (TSFE) to asbestos, even after the end of external exposure. However, recent epidemiological studies suggest that mesothelioma rates level off many years after first exposure to asbestos. A gradual clearance of asbestos from the lungs has been suggested as a possible explanation for this phenomenon. We analysed long-term trends of pleural and peritoneal cancer mortality in subjects exposed to asbestos to evaluate whether such trends were consistent with the clearance hypothesis.Methods
We used data from a pool of 43 Italian asbestos cohorts (51 801 subjects). The role of asbestos clearance was explored using the traditional mesothelioma multistage model, generalised to include a term representing elimination of fibres over time.Results
Rates of pleural cancer increased until 40 years of TSFE, but remained stable thereafter. On the other hand, we observed a monotonic increase of peritoneal cancer with TSFE. The model taking into account asbestos clearance fitted the data better than the traditional one for pleural (p=0.004) but not for peritoneal (p=0.09) cancer.Conclusions
Rates of pleural cancer do not increase indefinitely after the exposure to asbestos, but eventually reach a plateau. This trend is well described by a model accounting for a gradual elimination of the asbestos fibres. These results are relevant for the prediction of future rates of mesothelioma and in asbestos litigations.
Occupational risk of salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis: a nationwide population-based registry study
Occupational exposure to animals and foods thereof is a poorly characterised risk factor for salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, the main causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in the Western world. We performed a population-based registry study in the Netherlands to assess whether differences exist in the incidence of reported salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis cases among occupational groups, and whether they can be explained by differences in the magnitude of exposure to these pathogens, as defined by serology.Methods
Person-level occupational data for all Dutch residents were linked to lab-confirmed salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis data, and to serological data from a previous national serosurvey. SIRs for salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis among occupational sectors and specific high-risk occupations were calculated based on the total employed population. Moreover, Salmonella and Campylobacter seroincidence rates were compared among sectors and high-risk occupations.Results
Occupational exposure to live animals or manure and working in the sale of animal-derived food products were associated with significantly increased risks of salmonellosis (SIR 1.55–1.82) and campylobacteriosis (SIR 1.36–1.65). Moreover, incidences were significantly higher in specific industrial sectors, as well as healthcare and social work sectors. Mean seroincidence rates ranged from 1.28 to 2.30 infections/person-year for Campylobacter, and from 0.36 to 0.99 for Salmonella, with only slightly higher rates for people in high-risk occupations.Conclusions
Significant differences in reported salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis incidence exist among occupational sectors, with the highest incidence in those persons occupationally exposed to live animals. These differences are only partially reflected in the serology.
Dermatitis is the most common occupational skin disease, and further evidence is needed regarding preventable risk factors. The Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS) derived from administrative data was used to investigate dermatitis risk among industry and occupation groups in Ontario.Methods
ODSS cohort members were identified from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted lost time claims. A case was defined as having ≥2 dermatitis physician billing claims during a 12-month period within 3 years of cohort entry. A 3-year look-back period prior to cohort entry was used to exclude prevalent cases without a WSIB claim. Workers were followed for 3 years or until dermatitis diagnosis, age 65 years, emigration, death or end of follow-up (31 December 2016), whichever occurred first. Age-adjusted and sex-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models estimated HRs and 95% CIs. The risk of dermatitis was explored using a job exposure matrix that identifies exposure to asthmagens, many of which also cause contact dermatitis.Results
Among 597 401 workers, 23 843 cases of new-onset dermatitis were identified. Expected elevated risks were observed among several groups including furniture and fixture industries, food and beverage preparation and chemicals, petroleum, rubber, plastic and related materials processing occupations and workers exposed to metal working fluids and organic solvents. Decreased risk was observed among farmers, nurses and construction industries, and occupations exposed to latex and indoor cleaning products.Conclusions
ODSS can contribute to occupational dermatitis surveillance in Ontario by identifying occupational groups at risk of dermatitis that can then be prioritised for prevention activities.
Lower mortality rates compared with the general population have been reported for Agricultural Health Study (AHS) participants (enrolled 1993–1997) followed through 2007. We extended analysis of mortality among AHS participants (51 502 private pesticide applicators, their 31 867 spouses and 4677 commercial pesticide applicators from North Carolina and Iowa) through 2015 and compared results using several analytical approaches.Methods
We calculated standardised mortality ratios (SMRs), causal mortality ratios (CMR) and relative SMRs (rSMR) using state-specific mortality rates of the general populations as the referent.Results
Over the average 16 years of follow-up (1999–2015), 9305 private applicators, 3384 spouses and 415 commercial applicators died. SMRs and CMRs, with expected deaths calculated using the person-time among the cohort and the general population, respectively, indicated lower overall mortality in all study subgroups (SMRs from 0.61 to 0.69 and CMRs from 0.74 to 0.89), although CMRs indicated elevated mortality in private applicators from North Carolina and in ever-smokers. In SMR analyses, there were fewer than expected deaths from many causes, but deaths from some external causes including transportation-related injuries and mechanical forces were elevated in private applicators. CMRs indicated higher than expected deaths from prostate cancer, lymphohaematopoietic cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic glomerulonephritis in private applicators, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in spouses (from 1.19 to 1.53). rSMR results were generally elevated, similar to CMR findings.Conclusions
AHS participants experienced lower overall mortality than the general population.
Mortality from a few specific causes was increased in private applicators, specifically when CMR and rSMR approaches were used.
The aim of this study is to determine if parental occupational exposure to 16 agents is associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).Methods
Demographic, health and parental occupational data were collected as part of the CHildhood Autism Risks from Genetics and Environment study. The workplace exposure assessment was conducted by two experienced industrial hygienists for the parents of 537 children with ASD and 414 typically developing (TD) children. For each job, frequency and intensity of 16 agents were assessed and both binary and semi-quantitative cumulative exposure variables were derived. Logistic regression models were used to calculate adjusted odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) to assess associations between parental occupational exposures 3 months pre-pregnancy until birth.Results
The OR of ASD in the children of mothers exposed to any solvents was 1.5 times higher than the mothers of TD children (95% CI=1.01–2.23). Cumulative exposure indicated that the OR associated with a moderate level of solvent exposure in mothers was 1.85 (95% CI=1.09, 3.15) for children with ASD compared with TD children. No other exposures were associated with ASD in mothers, fathers or the parents combined.Conclusion
Maternal occupational exposure to solvents may increase the risk for ASD. These results are consistent with a growing body of evidence indicating that environmental and occupational exposures may be associated with ASD. Future research should consider specific types of solvents, larger samples and/or different study designs to evaluate other exposures for potential associations with ASD.
This study aimed to obtain prevalence data on use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) among Belgian workers, and to explore the associations between self-reported AOD use and job-related effects as experienced by workers, and the level of workers’ well-being, respectively.Methods
In this cross-sectional study (2016), 5367 workers filled out a questionnaire including validated instruments such as the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption (AUDIT-C). Job-related effects were defined as: being late at work, absenteeism, loss of productivity, injuries, conflicts with co-workers and sanctions by employers. Descriptive and multiple logistic regression analyses were performed.Results
Based on AUDIT-C, 39.1% of last year drinkers had an indication of problem drinking. The odds of experienced job-related effects was 3.6 (CI 2.86 to 4.60) times larger than the odds among workers without this indication. This ratio decreased to 3.2 (CI 2.52 to 4.11), controlling for language, gender, family context, level of education and sector. Respondents who used illicit drugs more frequently (>once a month) also had an increased risk for experienced job-related effects (OR 5.8; CI 2.87 to 11.84). Having a low level of well-being increased the risk for job-related effects due to psychoactive medication (OR 2.3, CI 1.10 to 4.91).Discussion
In this study, self-reported AOD use was associated with short-term job-related effects. This suggests that an AOD policy in different sectors is needed with respect for the organisational culture. Its focus should lie on prevention and early detection of AOD problems, and on the mental health of workers. Attention is required for the non-medical use of prescription drugs.
Associations of objectively measured forward bending at work with low-back pain intensity: a 2-year follow-up of construction and healthcare workers
This study aimed to determine possible associations between objectively measured forward bending at work (FBW) and low-back pain intensity (LBPi) among Norwegian construction and healthcare workers.Methods
One-hundred and twenty-five workers wore two accelerometers for 3–4 consecutive days, during work and leisure to establish duration of ≥30° and ≥60° forward bending. The participating workers reported LBPi (0–3) at the time of objective measurements and after 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. We investigated associations using linear mixed models with significance level p≤0.05 and presented results per 100 min.Results
The duration of ≥30° and ≥60° FBW was not associated with average LBPi during follow-up, neither for the total sample nor stratified on work sector. Furthermore, analyses on all workers and on construction workers only found no significant association between ≥30° or ≥60° FBW and change in LBPi over the 2-year follow-up. For healthcare workers we found a consistent significant association between the duration of ≥30° FBW at baseline and the change in LBPi during follow-up, but this was not found for ≥60° FBW.Conclusions
This study suggests that objectively measured duration of FBW in minutes is not associated with average levels of, or change in LBPi in construction workers over a 2-year period. In healthcare workers, exposure to ≥30° FBW was associated with change in LBPi, while we did not find this for ≥60° FBW. Results may indicate that the associations between FWB and LBP vary depending on type of work tasks, gender or sector-specific factors.
The causes of kidney cancer are not well understood though occupational exposures are thought to play a role. Crystalline silica is a known human carcinogen, and despite previous links with kidney disease, there have been few studies investigating its association with kidney cancer. We addressed this research gap using a population-based case-control study of Canadian men.Methods
Questionnaire data were obtained from individuals with histologically confirmed kidney cancer, and population-based controls recruited from eight Canadian provinces (1994–1997). An industrial hygienist characterised participants’ lifetime occupational exposure, and their confidence in the assessment (possibly, probably or definitely exposed) to silica on three dimensions (intensity, frequency and duration), and cumulative exposure was estimated. Logistic regression was used to estimate ORs and 95% CIs, adjusting for potential confounders.Results
Nearly half of the 689 kidney cancer cases (49%) and 2369 controls (44%) had ever been occupationally exposed to crystalline silica. In a fully adjusted model, workers ever-exposed to silica had a slightly increased risk of kidney cancer relative to those who were unexposed (OR 1.10, 95% CI 0.92 to 1.32). Odds were modestly (and generally not statistically significantly) increased for models with duration of exposure and cumulative exposure, though exposure-response relationships were not evident.Conclusions
Our findings do not provide evidence that occupational exposure to crystalline silica increases risk of kidney cancer in men.
Residential sources of pesticide exposure during pregnancy and the risks of hypospadias and cryptorchidism: the French ELFE birth cohort
Prenatal occupational exposure to pesticides has been associated with male reproductive tract abnormalities. Little is known about the possible impact of non-occupational pesticide exposure on fetal and child development in the general population. Using data from a nationwide birth cohort, we aimed to assess the association between residential sources of prenatal pesticide exposure and the risks of hypospadias and cryptorchidism.Methods
Of the 9281 boys in ELFE (French Longitudinal Study of Children), the national French birth cohort, 53 were diagnosed with hypospadias and 137 with cryptorchidism. We assessed residential exposure sources from self-reported domestic use of eight types of pesticide products and French spatial land use data with acreage within a 1000 m radius around each family’s home for 21 crop types. We used logistic regression modelling, adjusted for possible confounders that included estimated dietary pesticide intake. Multiple imputations were used to handle missing data.Results
An increased risk of hypospadias was associated with domestic pesticide use against fleas and ticks (OR=2.28, 95% CI 1.09 to 4.75); no associations were found between cryptorchidism and any domestic pesticide use. Slightly increased risks of cryptorchidism were observed in association with all crop acreages near homes during pregnancy, especially for orchards, and no association was observed for hypospadias.Conclusions
Our results suggest a possible increased risk of hypospadias associated with prenatal use of some domestic pesticide products, likely to contain insecticides, and of cryptorchidism with nearby orchard acreage (crops repeatedly sprayed with pesticides). This work is limited by its modest number of cases.
Validity of retrospective occupational exposure estimates of lead and manganese in a case-control study
The validity of surrogate measures of retrospective occupational exposure in population-based epidemiological studies has rarely been evaluated. Using toenail samples as bioindicators of exposure, we assessed whether work tasks and expert assessments of occupational metal exposure obtained from personal interviews were associated with lead and manganese concentrations.Methods
We selected 609 controls from a case–control study of bladder cancer in New England who had held a job for ≥1 year 8–24 months prior to toenail collection. We evaluated associations between toenail metal concentrations and five tasks extracted from occupational questionnaires (grinding, painting, soldering, welding, working near engines) using linear regression models. For 139 subjects, we also evaluated associations between the toenail concentrations and exposure estimates from three experts.Results
We observed a 1.9-fold increase (95% CI 1.4 to 2.5) in toenail lead concentrations with painting and 1.4-fold increase (95% CI 1.1 to 1.7) in manganese concentrations with working around engines and handling fuel. We observed significant trends with increasing frequency of both activities. For lead, significant trends were observed with the ratings from all three experts. Their average ratings showed the strongest association, with subjects rated as possibly or probably exposed to lead having concentrations that were 2.0 and 2.5 times higher, respectively, than in unexposed subjects (ptrend <0.001). Expert estimates were only weakly associated with manganese toenail concentrations.Conclusions
Our findings support the ability of experts to identify broad contrasts in previous occupational exposure to lead. The stronger associations with task frequency and expert assessments support using refined exposure characterisation whenever possible.
Limitations of periodical health examinations in detecting occupational chronic solvent encephalopathy
Occupational diseases (ODs) are globally underdetected, and chronic solvent encephalopathy (CSE) is no exception. The aim was to study how the recommended policies and protocols were followed in occupational health services (OHS) periodical health examinations where symptomatic CSE cases have remained undetected.Methods
We retrospectively studied the medical records of occupational CSE cases (n=18) found in a screening project, which had not been detected in preceding OHS health examinations. We collected data from three sources: OHS units, the screening project and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. We analysed the health examinations conducted between symptom onset and the detection of CSE: regularity, content, use of recommended screening tools, exposure estimation and whether a physician was involved in the examinations, as recommended.Results
The mean duration of symptoms before OD identification was 7.3 years (range 3–13), and 36 health examinations had been conducted. Fifteen workers had attended these (1–9 times each) while suffering from CSE symptoms, and two before symptoms. Only one had not had access to OHS. The recommended symptom screening questionnaire, Euroquest, was used in five (14%) examinations, and previous solvent exposure inquired once. A physician was involved in 24 (67%) examinations, whereas the rest were carried out by a nurse.Conclusions
Although health examinations are conducted, guidelines are not followed. This may be due to a lack of awareness concerning CSE, and may apply to other ODs. In addition to legislation and policies, OH professionals must be continuously educated to improve awareness, prevention and detection of ODs.
To identify, appraise and synthesise studies that have examined the degree to which new workers are at an elevated risk of work-related acute injuries and musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries.Method
We searched three relevant electronic databases for studies published between 1995 and early 2018. Fifty-one studies using multivariate analyses met our relevance and quality appraisal criteria. These studies examined two different work outcomes: acute injuries (eg, cuts, burns and falls) and MSK injuries (eg, repetitive strain).Results
In four of six studies looking at acute work injuries, new workers were found to be at an elevated risk of injury (ie, moderate supportive evidence of new worker risk). In another six studies looking at MSK symptoms, injuries or disorders, evidence of an elevated risk among new workers was insufficient or limited.Conclusions
Our review has potential implications for the prevention of work injuries, providing policy-makers and workplace parties with supportive evidence about the importance of prevention efforts focused on new workers, such as developing workplace policies that emphasise hazard exposure reduction, hazard awareness, hazard protection and worker empowerment.