Dr. Paul Demers is the director of the Occupational Cancer Research Centre in Toronto, based at Cancer Care Ontario. He is also the scientific director of CAREX Canada, a national workplace and environmental carcinogen surveillance program, as well as a professor with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and a clinical professor with the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia. He is an epidemiologist whose research focuses on occupational cancer and other chronic diseases.
In most countries workers can file workers’ compensation claims if they think they suffer from a work-related disease. Based on the rules that apply for their national system they may can their health problem rated an occupational disease and receive compensation. In the Netherlands we do not have such a system. The only way to get officially compensated is claim compensation in court and sue the employer. Nevertheless occupational physicians are obliged to report (suspected) occupational diseases to the Netherlands Center for Occupational Diseases. But despite this obligation there is substantial underreporting. That is why we recently started discussions on workers’ reporting work-related illness and disease to create a new source of information on work-related health problems. I am interested to hear you opinion on that subject. So please answer the poll question and comment if you feel like it.
Playing related musculoskeletal disorders can cause big problems for professional musicians:
Musculoskeletal pain is common in elite professional musicians. In this study the researchers tried to assess the prevalence and impact of this pain in relation to playing conditions, mental health and performance anxiety. They found that a major personal risk factor is somatizing tendency, but performance anxiety has less impact. Risks differ substantially by instrument played, offering pointers towards prevention. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most difficult things in Occupational Health is show that preventive measures really have impact on the incidence of work-related disease. In an interesting study by Jill Stocks et al. data of the registries for occupational diseases in the UK are used to study the influence of European legislation on reducing chromate exposure in cement. They found a steeper decline in allergic contact dermatitis attributed to chromate than for other types of allergic contact dermatitis after introduction of the legislation.
Evidence from a relatively large case-control study (181 cases (71% response) vs. 481 controls (52% response)) suggests that exposures to certain chlorinated solvents may be associated with increased incidence of multiple myeloma; however, the study is limited by relatively low participation (52%) among controls
What this paper adds:
The aetiology of multiple myeloma is poorly understood.
The purpose of this research was to examine relationships between occupational exposures to chlorinated solvents and multiple myeloma.
This research provides evidence that certain chlorinated solvents, most notably trichloroethylene, are associated with increased incidence of multiple myeloma.
While results were less clear, exposure to 1,1,1-trichloroethane, methylene chloride, perchloroethylene, carbon tetrachloride and chloroform also conferred increased risk of multiple myeloma in our population. Read the rest of this entry »
Interesting study on a preventive intervention for occupational noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Workers who could daily monitor their noise exposure “at-ear” experienced no further worsening of high frequency hearing 4 years after the intervention. This might be a promising approach to enhance the situation of this frequent occupational disease.
To evaluate the respiratory health of municipal solid waste workers (MSWWs), Greek researchers studied 184 municipal employees of Keratsini (104 MSWWs and 80 controls) with questionnaire and spirometry. Spirometry revealed a reduced mean forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume in 1 s (as a percentage of predicted values) in MSWWs compared with controls. After adjustment for smoking status, only the decline in FVC was statistically significant (P < 0.05).
Prevalence of all respiratory symptoms was higher in MSWWs than in controls. After adjustment for confounding factors, the difference reached statistical significance (P < 0.05) for morning cough, cough on exertion and sore throat. Although this study had some limitations like small sample size, the results indicate a higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms and a greater decrease in lung function in MSWWs.
An accumulating body of research demonstrates that risk of suicide varies between occupational groups. There is preliminary evidence to suggest that veterinary surgeons are a group at risk. A systematic review of studies of rates and methods of suicide in the veterinary profession shows that there appears to be an elevated risk of suicide for veterinary surgeons in several countries.
NIOSH study confirms that despite all the knowledge on the risks of exposure to flour, employees of large commercial bakeries are still at risk of sensitization and respiratory symptoms from exposure to high levels of bakery associatied antiges (BAA). Higher exposure comes with more work-related symptoms. Read the rest of this entry »
Damp and moldy indoor environments aggravate pre-existing asthma, but may also induce new-onset asthma. Finnish researchers assessed the probability of molds being the cause of asthma in a series of 694 patients examined because of respiratory symptoms in relation to workplace dampness and molds between 1995 and 2004. They had all been exposed to molds at work and had suffered from work-related lower respiratory symptoms.
Using internationally recommended diagnostic criteria for occupational asthma (OA), they categorized the patients into three groups: probable, possible, and unlikely OA (156, 45, and 475 patients, respectively). In the group of probable OA, mold sensitization was found in 20%. The level of exposure and sensitization to molds was associated with probable OA. Exposure to damp and moldy workplaces can induce new-onset adult asthma. IgE mediation is a rare mechanism, whereas other mechanisms are unknown.