Health
PubMed | 19 June 2017

Low Personal Exposure to Benzene and 1,3-Butadiene in the Swedish Petroleum Refinery Industry

Petroleum refinery workers are exposed to the carcinogens benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Declining exposures have been reported internationally, but information on current exposure in the Swedish refinery industry is limited. The aim was to examine refinery workers’ personal exposure to benzene and 1,3-butadiene and increase awareness of exposure conditions by collaboration with involved refineries.

Altogether, 505 repeated personal exposure measurements were performed among workers at two refineries. Full-shift measurements were conducted in different exposure groups using Perkin Elmer diffusive samplers filled with Carbopack X. Mean levels were calculated using mixed-effects models. A large fraction of measurements below the limit of detection required imputation of computer-generated data.

Low benzene and 1,3-butadiene levels were found among refinery workers. Mean benzene exposure was about 1% of the Swedish occupational limit and for 1,3-butadiene, exposure was even lower.

Find the full paper here.

PubMed | 19 June 2017

Effects of Pulmonary Exposure to Chemically Distinct Welding Fumes on Neuroendocrine Markers of Toxicity

Exposure to welding fumes may result in disorders of the pulmonary, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. Welders are also at a greater risk of developing symptoms similar to those seen in individuals with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease.

In welders, there are studies that suggest that alterations in circulating prolactin concentrations may be indicative of injury to the dopamine (DA) neurons in the substantia nigra. The goal of these studies was to use an established model of welding particulate exposure to mimic the effects of welding fume inhalation on reproductive functions. Because  previous investigators suggested that changes in circulating prolactin may be an early marker of DA neuron injury, movement disorders, and reproductive dysfunction, prolactin, hypothalamic tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels (a marker of DA synthesis), and other measures of hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal function were measured after repetitive instillation of welding fume particulates generated by flux core arc-hard surfacing, manual metal arc-hard surfacing, or gas metal arc-mild steel welding or manganese chloride.

Exposure to welding fume particulate resulted in the accumulation of various metals in the pituitary and testes of rats, along with changes in hypothalamic TH and serum prolactin levels. Exposure to particulates with high concentrations of soluble manganese (Mn) appeared to exert the greatest influence on TH activity levels and serum prolactin concentrations. Thus, circulating prolactin levels may serve as a biomarker for welding fume/Mn-induced neurotoxicity. Other reproductive measures were collected, and these data were consistent with epidemiological findings that prolactin and testosterone may serve as biomarkers of welding particulate induced DA neuron and reproductive dysfunction.

Find the full paper here.

CDC | 14 June 2017

NIOSH, OSHA Introduce Improved Heat Safety App for Outdoor Workers

An updated app for smart phones and other mobile devices can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather. The free app was redesigned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), along with the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

An updated app for smart phones and other mobile devices can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather.

The OSHA/NIOSH Heat Safety Tool mobile app, for iOS and Android devices, determines heat index values—a measure for how hot it feels—based on temperature and humidity. Workers exposed to hot and humid conditions, including construction workers, landscapers, farmers, and others, are encouraged to use the app to check weather conditions if they will be outdoors for short or long periods during the summer heat.

“With the hot summer months on our doorstep, this app is a valuable tool for employers and workers to help prevent heat-related illnesses,” said John Howard, director of NIOSH. “In many cases, workers rely on their employers to provide opportunities for taking rest breaks and drinking water. This app puts life-saving information at the fingertips of both supervisors and workers to inform them when they need to take precautions to stay safe at the worksite.”

Read the full story here.

Certifind | 7 June 2017

Column: Why Is the Health and Safety Officer Role Essential in the Oil and Gas Industry?

Every organization is bound to fulfill the compliance related to the health and safety of the employees and every individual associated with it. This is not specified to any particular industry, but some industries are at higher risk because of their sensitive production processes that involve risky tasks to be performed by the employees. Those organizations that do not comply with the regulations toward them by the state of health and safety are at higher risks compare with other organizations. This may result in loss of lives and health hazards of the people working there.

A well-reputed organization makes sure that there are no health and safety hazards present in the organization that may take place in any case. In this regard, the oil and gas industry is highly responsible for the correct implications of all the regulations that guarantee the health and safety of workers employed there. Oil and gas companies are strictly considered to be at higher risks in this regard because the manufacturing process, including the extraction and production of oil and gas, is vulnerable to the health and lives of people. This can easily be affected by the fire and other gases resulting in a blast or other incidents. To keep a check on these, a health and safety officer in the oil and gas industry is hired who manages all the relevant actions required to prevent an organization from any such incident.

From the beginning of the process that is the extraction of raw materials till the end of it, health and safety officers in the oil and gas industry monitor the necessary equipment required in case of any emergency. The tasks for which a health and safety officer is associated is highly important and valued in the oil and gas industry. Not only this, but they are some of the highest paid individuals associated with the organization.

Read the full column here.

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine | 23 May 2017

Green Collar Workers: An Emerging Workforce in the Environmental Sector

This paper describes the sociodemographic, occupational, and health characteristics of “green collar” workers, a vital and emerging workforce in energy-efficiency and sustainability.

This study linked data from the 2004 to 2012 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) and US Occupational Information Network (O*NET). Descriptive and logistic regression analyses were conducted using green collar worker status as the outcome.

Green collar workers are more likely than nongreen workers to be men, age 25 to 64 years, obese, and with less than or equal to high school education. They are less likely to be racial/ethnic minorities and employed in small companies or government jobs.

Green collar workers have a distinct sociodemographic and occupational profile, and this workforce deserves active surveillance to protect its workers’ safety. The NHIS/O*NET linkage represents a valuable resource to further identify the unique exposures and characteristics of this occupational sector.

Find the complete paper here.

National Center for Biotechnology Information | 26 April 2017

Analysis of Hearing and Tinnitus in Workers Exposed to Occupational Noise

Noise is one of the harmful agents to health that is present in the various branches of economic activity. Hearing loss and tinnitus are among the most frequently reported complaints by workers exposed to occupational noise.

The objective of this study was to analyze the hearing and tinnitus in normal-hearing workers exposed to occupational noise. This is a cross-sectional analytical trial in metallurgical industries, in which we evaluated normal-hearing workers through anamnesis, audiometry, and otoacoustic emissions.

A high prevalence of failure of otoacoustic emissions (40%) and tinnitus (66.6%) was observed. Both in the amplitude and in the signal/noise ratio, the higher the frequency of the sound, the worse the results. Despite having audiometry within normal limits, the results indicate that workers are suffering the effects of exposure and reveals association between failure of otoacoustic emissions and tinnitus in this population.

It is concluded that failures in distortion product otoacoustic emissions and tinnitus are predictors of hearing damage in normal-hearing workers.

Find the full paper here.

National Center for Biotechnology Information | 26 April 2017

Review of Measurement Techniques and Methods for Assessing Personal Exposure to Airborne Nanomaterials in Workplaces

Exposure to airborne agents needs to be assessed in the personal breathing zone by the use of personal measurement equipment.

Specific measurement devices for assessing personal exposure to airborne nanomaterials have only become available in the recent years. They can be differentiated into direct-reading personal monitors and personal samplers that collect the airborne nanomaterials for subsequent analyses.

This article presents a review of the available personal monitors and samplers and summarizes the available literature regarding their accuracy, comparability and field applicability. Due to the novelty of the instruments, the number of published studies is still relatively low. Where applicable, literature data, therefore, is complemented with published and unpublished results from the recently finished nanoIndEx project.

The presented data show that the samplers and monitors are robust and ready for field use with sufficient accuracy and comparability. However, several limitations apply (e.g., regarding the particle size range of the personal monitors and their in general lower accuracy and comparability compared with their stationary counterparts).

The decision whether a personal monitor or a personal sampler shall be preferred depends strongly on the question to tackle. In many cases, a combination of a personal monitor and a personal sampler may be the best choice to obtain conclusive results.

Find the full paper here.

Packaging News | 3 April 2017

Column: Why Do Businesses Ignore the Health in Health and Safety?

Jenkins

The recent World Economic Forum in Davos saw a great number of business moguls and political giants unite to address the world’s most pressing global issues.

But ask the attendees how they found the forum, as one BBC reporter did, and their response might be one of frustration at their lack of time to exercise, especially during the event.

It’s no secret that some of the planet’s most successful individuals stick to rigorous fitness regimes, which makes sense; the motivation and determination required to push yourself physically are the same skills needed to reach the top of the career ladder.

This got me thinking about the power of health and fitness and whether businesses on the whole should be doing more when it comes to health and wellbeing programs.

Health Over Safety
Most organizations have health and safety policies, and, as a manufacturing business, we take safety extremely seriously. However, in many organizations, “safety” dominates these policies and wellbeing initiatives often fall by the wayside. But, at what cost does this come to a business?

According to the Health and Safety Executive, 23.3 million working days were lost because of work-related ill health in 2014–15, and NHS England estimates that this costs employers and tax payers around GBP 22 billion a year.

Furthermore, research by the Department for Work and Pensions indicates that almost 50% of the UK workforce will be 50 or older by 2024.

This, coupled with the removal of the fixed retirement age 5 years ago, points to the fact that the UK workforce is aging and more people are suffering from long-term health problems.

A healthier workforce has a direct correlation with increased productivity and more engaged and committed employees. Individuals are more engaged and customers see a difference in the quality of their products; wellbeing is more than worth the investment.

Read the full column here.

BBC | 29 March 2017

Offshore Workers Exposed to Radiation

An offshore worker has called for action after he and colleagues were exposed to radiation, BBC Scotland can reveal.

EnQuest’s Thistle platform. Credit: EnQuest.

The incident happened on EnQuest’s Thistle platform, off Shetland, last December.

Rigging supervisor Steve Innes, from Sunderland, told the BBC he and fellow Wood Group contractors discovered they had been exposed to alpha radiation.

EnQuest said “additional precautionary steps” had since been taken.

Wood Group said it was committed to employee safety.

Mr Innes, who said he has struggled to find more work since raising concerns, said the workers now faced cancer fears, and blood tests were ongoing.

He said EnQuest had failed in its duty of care.

The men were working at Thistle, 125 miles northeast of Shetland, doing shutdown work with pipe equipment.

Innes claimed they were told there was a problem two-thirds of the way through the trip.

He claimed a health and safety manager told them a reading had been taken the night before and all the work was stopped.

He said, “We had all been working on it without the proper PPE (personal protective equipment), because they had assumed it was clear. At first we were all in shock. We have been exposed to radioactive material for hours at a time.”

Read the full story here.

Public News Service | 2 March 2017

Health Professionals Urge Halt to Attacks on Clean-Air Protections

Forty-thousand doctors, nurses, and public-health professionals have asked the oil and gas industry to stop opposing policies to reduce methane emissions.

Methane leaks can occur at every step, from the well to the consumer. Credit: Tim Evanson/flickr.com.

In an open letter to the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry lobbying group, the health advocates point out that opposing regulations that restrict methane emissions endangers public health. The gas developers are urging state legislators to support a bill that would prohibit the Department of Environmental Protection from having stricter regulations than those mandated by the federal government.

And as doctor Ned Ketyer, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Environmental Health, notes, the Trump administration does not like regulations.

“The administration has made it very clear that as early as this week they’re going to start rolling back and removing regulations that protect public health,” he said.

The gas industry counters that burning natural gas is cleaner than burning coal or oil, and therefore helps clean the environment.

Read the full story here.

Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment, and Health

Mortality of Shift Workers

Is shift work associated with higher mortality risk? That question has been the subject of much discussion for decades. Mortality risk includes concerns that reflect not only incidence but also case fatality, treatment, information of death certificates, and competing causes of death—especially in advanced age. Although related, mortality and incidence are not the same; the former is broader.

Taylor and Pocock performed the first study using modern epidemiological methods. The cohort included 8,603 male manual workers followed for 12 years. The analysis presented results on indirect standardization [i.e., the standardized mortality ratio (SMR) among day, shift, and ex-shift workers, using the general population as a reference]. The results showed SMR of 97.3, 101.5, and 118.9 for the three groups, respectively. The authors concluded that “the evidence we have obtained … leads to the conclusion that shift work appears to have no adverse effect upon mortality.” In the following years, that study has often been cited as evidence against increased mortality among shift workers. However, a reanalysis of the data casts doubt on the interpretation of the results, arguing that internal comparison between the three groups might indicate that shift work actually increases mortality risk.

Read the full story here.