Investigation of the occupational health and safety conditions in Hellenic solid waste management facilities and assessment of the in-situ hazard level

Due to tenuous working conditions and working accidents in the past, sufficient safety measures for the personnel in certain solid waste management facilities are deemed a necessity. Besides the fact that such facilities are equipped with heavy machinery associated with safety risks, the working environment poses additional health risks to the personnel, due to their exposure to various waste-derived emissions. Therefore, it is required to establish and preserve the safety and hygienic conditions but also to equip and train their personnel during all waste treatment and management stages. Presented in this work are the results of a field research which aimed to evaluate the health and safety conditions in operating Hellenic Solid Waste Management facilities. For the performed data mining, structured questionnaires were used and interviews with facility Safety Officers and workers were held. Facilities included sanitary landfills, recycling plants, transfer stations, mechanical-biological treatment plants and a HealthCare Waste incinerator. Major outcome was the overall evaluation of Occupational Health and Safety measures of the facilities (material Recovery and composting facilities are those with the higher hazard level), as well as the evaluation of high-risk parameters (“dust” and “litter, animals and insects in the perimeter” are found to constitute the major health hazards for the facilities' personnel). The limitation of the latter parameters and the adoption of measures towards it by decision makers or facility managers/stakeholders will lead in best-practice practical guidelines.

Source: Moussiopoulos, N. (2017). Safety Science, 96, 192-197.

Evaluation of high blood pressure and obesity among US coal miners participating in the Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program

Since 2005, the Enhanced Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program (ECWHSP) has offered respiratory examinations to coal miners in a mobile examination unit. As little is known about the cardiovascular health of coal miners, we describe the prevalence of high blood pressure (BP) and obesity among ECWHSP participants. During 2015, 1402 ECWHSP health examinations were performed. The prevalence of BP consistent with hypertension (systolic BP ≥ 140 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥ 90 mm Hg), prehypertension (systolic BP 120-139 mm Hg or diastolic BP 80-89 mm Hg), and hypertensive crisis (systolic BP ≥ 180 mm Hg or diastolic BP ≥ 110 mm Hg) were calculated and compared with the US adult population using standardized morbidity ratios (SMRs). Most participants were male (N = 1317, 94%), White (N = 1303, 93%) and non-Hispanic (N = 1316, 94%). Thirty-one percent (N = 440) of participants had BP in the hypertensive range and 87% (N = 1215) were overweight/obese. Twenty-four participants (2%) had a BP reading consistent with a hypertensive crisis. Prevalence of obesity (52%, SMR = 1.52, 95% confidence interval = 1.41-1.64) and BP consistent with hypertension (31%, SMR = 1.60, 95% confidence interval = 1.45-1.76) was higher than the US adult population.The prevalence of obesity and BP consistent with hypertension in this population of coal miners is substantial, indicating a need for cardiovascular health interventions in coal mining communities.

Source: Casey, M. L., Fedan, K. B., Edwards, N., Blackley, D. J., Halldin, C. N., Wolfe, A. L., & Laney, A. S. (2017). Journal of the American Society of Hypertension.

Airborne fungal species associated with mouldy and non-mouldy buildings

Effects of air change rates, humidity, and air velocity
Several studies have shown an association between dampness and health issues like headache and asthma. To better understand the exposure risk of fungal growth in buildings this study investigates the release of fungi from gypsum boards infested with fungi from a moisture-damaged house. Further, the composition and concentration of fungal species in indoor air of five non-moisture-damaged homes are analysed, and the ratio between species associated- and not associated with moisture-damaged buildings are related to air change rate (ACR) and relative humidity (RH). The air velocity near the surface of the gypsum boards in combination with the changes in sampling time influenced the particle release rate. After 8 h particles were still released, and more species were released during 8 h with low air velocity than during 15 min with high air velocity. More fungal species and a higher release rate were found from damp surfaces with substantial growth than from gypsum boards dried out before they were totally colonized. In the five homes ACR and RH had a significant influence on the fungal species composition. Thus, a low ACR and a high RH were associated with increased ratio of species associated with moisture-damage relative to species not associated with moisture-damage. In conclusion, increasing the ventilation and reducing the RH of the indoor air will have a beneficial effect on the airborne species composition. Further, fast action by drying out a fungal infestation has a positive impact on the exposure risk in terms of exposure level and species composition.

Source: Knudsen, S. M., Gunnarsen, L., & Madsen, A. M. (2017). Building and Environment.

Risques biologiques infectieux en animalerie de compagnie

Plusieurs zoonoses (bactériennes, virales, parasitaires, mycosiques) peuvent être transmises à l'Homme par les animaux de compagnie. Cependant, une enquête de la Mutualité sociale agricole (MSA) a mis en évidence une méconnaissance par les animaliers des risques encourus. À partir de ce constat, une recherche bibliographique et une étude de poste dans une animalerie de compagnie ont permis de réaliser un état des lieux des risques et des mesures de prévention afin de proposer des pistes d'amélioration. Les résultats montrent qu'il n'est pas toujours facile, dans ce milieu particulier, de faire respecter les mesures de prévention et que des actions d'information sont nécessaires. Une attention particulière doit être portée aux femmes enceintes au contact des chats et des rongeurs, ainsi qu'aux salariés travaillant au contact des oiseaux, devant les risques de toxoplasmose pour les premières, et d'ornithose pour les seconds.


Aérosols semi-volatils

De l'identification au prélèvement
Des études récentes concernant les aérosols semi-volatils ont révélé des interactions entre les particules et les vapeurs. Encore faut-il être capable d'identifier le caractère semi-volatil d'une substance pour développer une méthode de prélèvement et d'analyse prenant en compte les deux phases, particulaire et vapeur. Cet article a pour but de donner une définition adaptée de ce qu'est un aérosol semi-volatil et d'appliquer cette définition à des composés dont les méthodes de prélèvement et d'analyse ont été développées récemment à l'INRS.


Review of vapour cloud explosion incidents

Major incidents worldwide have involved large vapour cloud explosions, including the Buncefield explosion in 2005. It is important to learn from historical incidents to understand the risk profile of installations.
Following the Buncefield explosion, a large body of published research has improved scientific understanding of the release event, the flammable cloud formation and the explosion. This report describes work done by HSE with US safety regulators to consolidate previous research and to incorporate recently published analysis into a single, systematic review of historical incidents.
Important new conclusions have been reached that a high proportion of large vapour cloud explosions occur at nil or very low wind speeds. In these conditions, the dispersion from large and medium scale releases will be gravity-driven and the vapour cloud will continue to grow as long as it remains undetected. Large vapour clouds will almost always ignite, the probability of a severe explosion event is very high, especially for gasoline.
These findings have important implications for safety practitioners considering installations where such releases of flammable substances can occur. They reinforce the importance of the main risk control measures of overfill prevention and maintaining plant integrity; but they also suggest that the value of mitigation measures such as vapour detectors and vapour barriers should be reviewed.


Opportunité et risques des nanomatériaux

Le Programme national de recherche PNR 64 «Opportunités et risques des nanomatériaux» a démarré début 2010. 23 groupes de recherche de toute la Suisse ont examiné les opportunités et les risques présentés par les nanomatériaux synthétiques aux différents stades de leur cycle de vie.
Parmi les groupes de recherche, celui mené par Mickael Riediker, ancien chef de groupe à l'IST, est le seul à s'être chargé d'investiguer l'impact des nanomatériaux sur les travailleurs.


Dutyholder evidence - Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (Post Implementation Review)

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR 2012) set minimum standards for the protection of employees and others from the risks related to exposure to asbestos. CAR2012 includes a statutory requirement to assess their effectiveness after they have been operational of a period of time: the so-called ‘Post Implementation Review' (PIR). The purpose of the PIR is to evaluate the regulatory framework, rather than to examine government policy on control of asbestos.
One part of the evidence required for the PIR process is the views and experiences of dutyholders who need to comply with the regulations during the course of their work. This report describes research undertaken to provide this evidence. A series of workshops, focus groups and an online survey were undertaken. The research found that generally the dutyholders considered that the regulations are: i) beneficial in preventing and/or reducing the risk of exposure to asbestos, raising awareness, and setting clear standards; and ii) that they are practical to implement.


Une nouvelle méthodologie pour vérifier les compteurs de noyaux de condensation

Les compteurs de noyaux de condensation, instruments de mesure en temps réel de la concentration en nombre des particules submicroniques dispersées dans l'air, présentent de nombreux avantages. Afin de vérifier les performances des instruments disponibles sur le marché, l'INRS a mis au point une méthode, le dispositif de contrôle des compteurs. Cet article en présente le fonctionnement, les avantages et un exemple d'application.


Particules minérales allongées

Identification des sources d'émission et proposition de protocoles de caractérisation et de mesures
La réalisation de ces travaux porte spécifiquement sur les espèces minérales suivantes: actinolite, anthophyllite, trémolite, amosite/grunérite, crocidolite/riébeckite, fluoro-édénite,
winchite, richtérite, érionite, chrysotile et antigorite. Les PMA issues de ces espèces minérales sont dénommées PMA d'intérêt (PMAi) dans l'expertise de l'Anses.


Use of Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plans in Private Dental Practices

Results and Clinical Implications of a National Survey
Dental healthcare workers (DHWs) are at risk for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens (BBPs). The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Bloodborne Pathogens Standard requires employers to have a written exposure control plan (ECP) detailing methods and means to reduce and manage occupational BBP exposures. Because little information is available on whether ECPs are created and used, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention conducted an online survey to determine if dental practices had an ECP, whether present ECPs had the necessary components, and if impediments existed to prevent having an ECP in place. Respondents were primarily from nonfranchised practices (69%) and dentists who owned the practice (63%). Seventy-two percent of survey participants had an ECP, and 20% were unaware of any federal requirements for an ECP prior to the survey. Engineering controls were used by many practices, although the type varied. Fifteen percent of practices did not offer the hepatitis B vaccine for employees. The survey revealed many dental practices were unaware of or were lacking required elements of the ECP. Findings from this survey indicate DHWs would benefit from increased education regarding methods to prevent occupational exposures to BBPs.

Source: Laramie, A. K., Bednarsh, H., Isman, B., Boiano, J. M., & McCrone, S. H. (2017). Compendium of continuing education in dentistry, 38(6), 398.


TREXMO (Translation of Exposure Models) is a recently developed peer-reviewed web-based tool that aimed to facilitate exposure assessment and chemicals registrations for authorities (e.g. SECO) and industry. The tool includes six commonly used models, i.e. ART, Stoffenmanager, ECETOC TRA v3, MEASE and EMKG-EXPO-TOOL and EASE. Excluding EASE, the models in TREXMO are recommended under the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of CHemicals) legislation. The tool is also applicable in Switzerland since the Swiss chemical regulations are conceptualized to be similar to those in EU.
The exposure models in TREXMO are connected with semi-automatic translations. These translations are aimed to guide the downstream users (e.g. registrants) to a more reliable use of the exposure models. With TREXMO, the users should thus benefit from less uncertain and safer exposure and risk assessment.


Summary of evidence – Solvent-based hydrophobic coatings and risks for acute respiratory toxicity

Water repellent coatings are increasingly used by different industries to reduce water and dirt sticking to surfaces. The coatings can be applied by processes that minimise the risk that operators inhale the product but there is evidence that some products are applied by spraying, creating an inhalable mist.
This review examined evidence about these coatings and whether lung disease occurs when applied by spraying. Scientific studies on the hazardous properties of these products, and clinical studies reporting lung disease in people using them, were considered.
A consistent finding was that some people develop an acute lung inflammation when applying these coatings by spray misting. Studies across Great Britain, Europe and the United States reported several hundred cases of serious lung disease and some fatalities, mostly in consumers applying such products using pressurised spray cans in poorly ventilated spaces. Experimental studies suggest that the different water repellent ingredients and solvents in which they are dissolved combine to damage the delicate lining of the lung.
Smart surface coatings offer many industrial and societal benefits. However, they should be applied by methods that minimise the risk of inhaling the product.


Les actes du Forum sur les cancérogènes professionnels maintenant en ligne

En avril 2017, l'IRSST a organisé le Forum sur l'exposition aux cancérogènes professionnels. Ce forum a permis de faire le point sur le fardeau des cancers professionnels au Québec et sur des stratégies de prévention actuelles ou potentielles. Les actes du Forum sont maintenant disponibles en ligne.
Certaines présentations PowerPoint des conférenciers peuvent également être consultées, ainsi que les fiches d'information sur les quatre substances qui ont fait l'objet de discussions soit :
-la silice,
-les fumées de soudage,
-les émissions de moteur diesel.


Intervention to diminish dehydration and kidney damage

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the potential to reduce kidney function damage during the implementation of a water, rest, shade (WRS) and efficiency intervention program among sugarcane workers.
Methods: A WRS intervention program adapted from the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) coupled with an efficiency program began two months into the 5-month harvest. One of the two groups of workers studied was provided with portable water reservoirs, mobile shaded tents, and scheduled rest periods. Health data (anthropometric and questionnaires), blood, and urine were collected at baseline and at three subsequent times over the course of the harvest. Daily wet bulb globe temperatures (WBGT) were recorded.
Results: Across a working day there were changes in biomarkers indicating dehydration (urine osmolality and serum albumin) and reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Cross-shift eGFR decrease was present in both groups; -10.5 mL/min/1.73m2 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) -11.8– -9.1], but smaller for the intervention group after receiving the program. Decreased eGFR over the 5-month harvest was seen in both groups: in the one receiving the intervention -3.4 mL/min/1.73m2 (95% CI -5.5– -1.3) and in the other -5.3 (95% CI -7.9–-2.7). The decrease appeared to halt after the introduction of the intervention in the group receiving the program.
Conclusion: A WRS and efficiency intervention program was successfully introduced for workers in sugarcane fields and appears to reduce the impact of heat stress on acute and over-harvest biomarkers of kidney function. Further research is needed to determine whether biomarker changes predict reduced risk of chronic kidney disease in this type of work.

Source: Wegman DH, Apelqvist J, Bottai M, Ekström U, García-Trabanino R, Glaser J, Hogstedt C, Jakobsson K, Jarquín E, Lucas RAI, Weiss I, Wesseling C, Bodin T, WE Program Working Group. Scand J Work Environ Health

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