2013-11-01 12:00 - Messages

25 years of chemical accident prevention at OECD

This brochure marks 25 years of OECD's Chemical Accidents Programme. It explains the history of the programme and many of its achievements since it was established in 1988. Over the years, there have been many publications and events which have addressed various aspects of chemical accidents but there are three ‘milestone' publications which are especially noteworthy.
First, the OECD Guiding Principles for Chemical Accident Prevention, Preparedness and Response which set out guidance on the safe planning, construction and operation of installations as well as principles for the review of safety performance. They also address the mitigation of adverse effects should an accident occur through measures for emergency preparedness and response.
Second, the OECD Guidance on Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs) which serves as a guide for all stakeholders to determine if their implementation of the Guiding Principles has led to improved safety. They can be used by national authorities and enterprises to prepare their own SPIs. This guidance was published in 2008 in two volumes: the first for public authorities, communities and the public; and the second for industry.
Third, a document was published in 2012 entitled Corporate Governance for Process Safety: Guidance for Senior Leaders in High Hazard Industries. It identifies the main elements essential in the corporate governance of hazardous installations and is complementary to the Guiding Principles and the SPIs. It is aimed at senior leaders, for example CEOs and board members, who have the authority to influence the safety culture of their organisations.
The brochure also considers future activities to assist in accident prevention, preparedness and response. A key concept which sums up the way forward is vigilance. The Guiding Principles, the SPIs and the Guidance for Senior Leaders are important together with national measures. But unless all those involved in accident prevention, preparedness and response are aware of the principles and remain vigilant, and unless safety becomes embedded in the culture of enterprises, then accidents will continue to happen.

Source : http://www.oecd.org/chemicalsafety/risk-management/Chemical-Accidents-25years.pdf

Legionnaires' disease

Technical guidance
This guidance is for dutyholders, which includes employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties. These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager responsible for others.
The guidance gives practical advice on the legal requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 concerning the risk from exposure to legionella and guidance on compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Source : http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg274.htm

Response of small-scale blackpowder storage in partitioned wooden boxes to external fire

Research has shown that when a partitioned wooden box containing twenty five plastic bottles, each bottle containing 1 kg of blackpowder is exposed to an external wood fire, the bottles of powder do not explode en masse but ignite over a short period of time. Fire resistance times for the specified box design of no less than 8 minutes were observed before blackpowder ignitions started to occur.
Following blackpowder ignitions within the wooden box, ejection of full bottles of blackpowder may occur with bottle ejection distances of up to 5 m having been recorded.
In the event of an incident involving blackpowder stored in the box designed as described, the ejected bottles of blackpowder could pose a hazard to emergency services and consideration should be given to disseminating the information to them.

Source : http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr991.htm

The use of infra-red (tympanic) temperature as a guide to signs of heat stress in industry

Previous IOM research, showed that the use of a simple infra-red (IR) ear thermometer did not provide a reliable prediction of core body temperature for use in industrial situations (Graveling et al, 2009). The aim of this research was to explore the use of an IR ear thermometer further, and to determine whether the consistency and accuracy of the measurements obtained could be improved sufficiently to provide a reliable indication of the risk of an individual suffering from heat strain.
Published studies where IR temperature has been compared with core temperature benchmarks such as rectal temperature to provide further detail on likely sources of variation in measured tympanic temperature were re-examined. Based upon the factors identified, a number of experimental studies were carried out to explore the influence of these factors, together with revised measurement methods aimed at reducing their influence.
The results showed that the technique devised as a result of these studies did give more reliable results than those found previously although the predictive relationship determined showed that IR tympanic temperature could still not be used to predict actual core body temperature with a sufficient degree of accuracy for it to be used in industry. However it is suggested that this provides a possible basis for the use of IR thermometry as a screening tool in monitoring hot workplaces for possible risks of thermal strain.

Source : http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr989.htm

Contraintes thermiques et substances chimiques

Bilan des connaissances et emplois les plus à risque au Québec
L'exposition au froid ou à la chaleur déclenche une série de réponses physiologiques compensatrices qui permettent à l'organisme humain de maintenir sa température interne malgré un stress thermique. Ces mécanismes de thermorégulation sont bien documentés et les changements physiologiques qu'ils impliquent peuvent modifier les fonctions de plusieurs organes liées à l'absorption et au métabolisme des substances chimiques. Des études dans le domaine de la pharmacologie et de l'épidémiologie  rapportent une augmentation de l'absorption et des effets de certains médicaments de même qu'une augmentation du taux de mortalité humaine associée à la pollution de l'air, lors d'une exposition simultanée à la chaleur et à des xénobiotiques. En extrapolant ces données à la santé au travail, il est permis de croire qu'une exposition concomitante aux contraintes thermiques et aux substances chimiques est susceptible d'accroître l'absorption de certains xénobiotiques de même que leurs effets.
Le premier objectif de cette recherche visait à recenser l'ensemble des données publiées dans la littérature scientifique récente. Le deuxième objectif consistait à identifier les travailleurs québécois exposés aux substances chimiques et qui pourraient être les plus touchés par les contraintes thermiques. Une attention particulière a été accordée à la présence de substances chimiques susceptibles d'affecter les mécanismes de thermorégulation.

Source : http://www.irsst.qc.ca/-publication-irsst-contraintes-thermiques-substances-chimiques-r-799.html

Estimation du nombre de cancers d'origine professionnelle au Québec

Comme dans la majorité des pays industrialisés, le cancer constitue la première cause de décès au Québec : en 2013, on estime à 20 200 le nombre de décès par cancer et à 48 700 le nombre de nouveaux diagnostics de cancer.
La cancérogénèse est un processus multifactoriel et complexe, qui débute plusieurs années avant que le cancer n'apparaisse cliniquement. Un cancer est considéré d'origine professionnelle lorsqu'il résulte de l'exposition, en milieu de travail, à un agent chimique, physique ou biologique, ou encore de conditions inhérentes à une activité de travail. Il s'agit d'un cancer qui ne se serait probablement pas produit si la personne n'avait pas exercé ce travail. Plusieurs études ont estimé que de 2 à 8 % de l'ensemble des cancers seraient attribuables au travail, selon les pays et le nombre de sièges et de types de cancer considérés. Cependant, pour certains sièges ou types de cancer, la proportion attribuable au travail est beaucoup plus élevée, allant par exemple jusqu'à plus de 90 % pour le mésothéliome de la plèvre chez les hommes. Afin de prioriser les besoins en recherche et en prévention, il faut d'abord connaître l'ampleur du problème et ce rapport présente, dans ce but, une estimation du nombre des cancers d'origine professionnelle chez les travailleurs québécois.

Source : http://www.irsst.qc.ca/-publication-irsst-estimation-du-nombre-de-cancers-d-origine-professionnelle-au-quebec-r-789.html

Occupational chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

A systematic literature review
Objective : Occupational-attributable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) presents a substantial health challenge. Focusing on spirometric criteria for airflow obstruction, this review of occupational COPD includes both population-wide and industry-specific exposures.
Methods : We used PubMed and Embase to identify relevant original epidemiological peer-reviewed articles, supplemented with citations identified from references in key review articles. This yielded 4528 citations. Articles were excluded for lack of lung function measurement, insufficient occupational exposure classification, lack of either external or internal referents, non-accounting of age or smoking effect, or major analytic inadequacies preventing interpretation of findings. A structured data extraction sheet was used for the remaining 147 articles. Final inclusion was based on a positive qualitative Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) score (≥2+) for study quality, yielding 25 population-wide and 34 industry/occupation-specific studies, 15 on inorganic and 19 on organic dust exposure, respectively.
Results : There was a consistent and predominantly significant association between occupational exposures and COPD in 22 of 25 population-based studies, 12 of 15 studies with an inorganic/mineral dust exposure, and 17 of 19 studies on organic exposure, even though the studies varied in design, populations, and the use of measures of exposure and outcome. A nearly uniform pattern of a dose–response relationship between various exposures and COPD was found, adding to the evidence that occupational exposures from vapors, gas, dust, and fumes are risk factors for COPD.
Conclusion : There is strong and consistent evidence to support a causal association between multiple categories of occupational exposure and COPD, both within and across industry groups.

Source : Omland Ø, Würtz ET, Aasen TB, Blanc P, Brisman J, Miller MR, Pedersen OF, Schlünssen V, Sigsgaard T, Ulrik CS, Viskum S. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2013.
http://www.sjweh.fi/show_abstract.php?abstract_id=3400

Non destructive techniques for analysis of diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEE) on filters

Diesel engine exhaust emissions represent a hazard to worker health. The amount of elemental carbon (EC) is the routine measure of DEEE. Historically, an instrument, the Bosch meter, has been used in underground mines in the UK. The meter measures ‘blackness' of a filter paper as a proxy for EC and HSL showed that there was a relationship between blackness and EC.
The Bosch meter is no longer available and this report details the investigations into a replacement system. The instruments tested were those that were commercially available at the time the research was undertaken: a Magee Scientific OT21 transmissometer, a DR-Lange Micro colour II and a system where a filter is scanned using a normal office scanner and then measured using a tool in the Adobe Photoshop software program.
Each has been assessed against the Bosch meter and the amount of EC as determined by two-stage combustion on an Analytik Jena elemental analyser.

Source : http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr994.htm

Low Levels of Exposure to Libby Amphibole Asbestos and Localized Pleural Thickening

Objective: To explore the relationship between low levels of exposure to Libby amphibole asbestos (LAA) and pleural abnormalities, specifically localized pleural thickening (LPT).
Methods: Three studies presenting the risks associated with quantitative LAA exposure estimates were reviewed, paying particular attention to lower exposure ranges.
Results: Studies reviewed were conducted among workers exposed to LAA at mining and milling operations in Libby, Montana, at a vermiculite processing facility in Marysville, Ohio, and community residents exposed to LAA from a vermiculite processing facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Pleural abnormalities were evaluated using radiographs. Despite differences in study populations and design, each study found that cumulative inhalation LAA exposure was associated with increased risk of LPT even at low levels of exposure.
Conclusions: Inhalation exposure to LAA is associated with increased risk of LPT even at the lowest levels of exposure in each study.

Source : Christensen, Krista Yorita PhD; Bateson, Thomas F. ScD; Kopylev, Leonid PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. November 2013, Volume 55, Issue 11, p. 1350–1355.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182a3bb25

 

Current Strategies for Engineering Controls in Nanomaterial Production and Downstream Handling Processes

The focus of this document is to identify and describe strategies for the engineering control of worker exposure during the production or use of engineered nanomaterials. Engineered nanomaterials are materials that are intentionally produced and have at least one primary dimension less than 100 nanometers (nm). Nanomaterials may have properties different from those of larger particles of the same material, making them unique and desirable for specific product applications. The consumer products market currently has more than 1,000 nanomaterial-containing products including makeup, sunscreen, food storage products, appliances, clothing, electronics, computers, sporting goods, and coatings. As more nanomaterials are introduced into the workplace and nano-enabled products enter the market, it is essential that producers and users of engineered nanomaterials ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Source : http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2014-102/

Intolérance environnementale idiopathique attribuée aux champs électromagnétiques

L'exposition aux champs électromagnétiques est de plus en plus présente en milieu professionnel, liée à de nombreuses avancées technologiques. Après un rappel des connaissances indispensables, cet article permet de faire le point sur le syndrome d'intolérance environnementale idiopathique attribué aux champs électromagnétiques, le tableau clinique, ses étiologies et sa prise en charge.

Source : http://www.rst-sante-travail.fr/rst/pages-article/ArticleRST.html?ref=RST.TC%20145

Pesticide Risk Perception and Biomarkers of Exposure in Florida Female Farmworkers

Objective: To compare workplace characteristics, workplace behaviors, and the health beliefs of female farmworkers of childbearing age with actual biomarkers of exposure to organophosphate pesticides and to the fungicide mancozeb.
Methods: Hispanic and Haitian farmworkers between the ages of 18 and 40 years working in nursery or fernery operations were recruited to participate in a cross-sectional survey, examining demographics, work practices, work-related hygiene, and pesticide exposure beliefs. Single-void (spot) urine samples were analyzed for organophosphate and ethylenethiourea metabolites.
Results: Women in nurseries worried less frequently about the effects of pesticides on their health than those in fernery operations. In summary, organophosphate and ethylenethiourea levels in nursery workers were significantly higher than levels in fernery workers and the control group.
Conclusions: Results showed that perceived pesticide exposure did not correspond to actual metabolite levels within differing agricultural subpopulations.

Source : Runkle, Jennifer D. PhD; Tovar-Aguilar, J. Antonio MA; Economos, Eugenia; Flocks, Joan JD; Williams, Bryan PhD; Muniz, Juan F. PhD; Semple, Marie BS; McCauley, Linda PhD. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine. November 2013, Volume 55, Issue 11, p. 1286–1292.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182973396

Nanotechnology and human health

Scientific evidence and risk governance
Nanotechnology, the science and application of objects smaller that 100 nanometres, is evolving rapidly in many fields. Besides  the  countless  beneficial  applications,  including  in  health  and  medicine,  concerns  exist  on  adverse  health consequences of unintended human exposure to nanomaterials.
In the 2010 Parma Declaration on Environment and Health, ministers of health and of environment of the 53 Member States of  the WHO Regional Office for Europe listed the health implications of nanotechnology and nanoparticles among the key environment and health challenges.
The  WHO  Regional  Office  for  Europe  undertook  a  critical  assessment  of  the  current  state  of  knowledge  and  the  key evidence on the possible health implications of nanomaterials, with a view to identify options for risk assessment and policy formulation, and convened an expert meeting to address the issue.
Current evidence is not conclusive.  As complexity and uncertainty are large, risk assessment is challenging, and formulation of evidence-based policies and regulations elusive. Innovative models and frameworks for risk assessment and risk governance are being developed and applied to organize the available evidence on biological and health effects of nanomaterials in ways to inform policy.

Source : http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/health-impact-assessment/publications/2013/nanotechnology-and-human-health-scientific-evidence-and-risk-governance.-report-of-the-who-expert-meeting-1011-december-2012,-bonn,-germany

Cancer du sein, professions et expositions professionnelles aux solvants organiques

Résultats de deux études épidémiologiques sur les cancers du sein chez l'homme et chez la femme
Des causes professionnelles ont été évoquées à propos du cancer du sein. Nous avons étudié le risque du cancer du sein par profession et en fonction des expositions professionnelles aux solvants pétroliers et chlorés dont le rôle a été évoqué.
Nous avons utilisé les données de deux études cas-témoins en population, dont l'une porte sur les cancers du sein chez l'homme (104 cas et 1 901 témoins dans 8 pays européens), et l'autre sur les cancers du sein chez la femme (1 230 cas et 1 315 témoins en Côte-d'Or et en Ille-et-Vilaine). Un historique de carrière complet était disponible dans chacune des études. Les expositions aux solvants pétroliers et chlorés ont été évaluées par matrice emplois-expositions réalisée par le Département santé travail (DST) de l'InVS. Les odds-ratios ajustés sur les facteurs de risque connus de cancer du sein ont été calculés.
Dans les analyses par profession, le risque de cancer du sein chez l'homme était augmenté chez les mécaniciens de véhicules à moteur suggérant un rôle cancérogène possible des produits pétroliers. Un risque accru de cancer du sein chez la femme était également suggéré chez les infirmières, les ouvrières du textile, et les ouvrières du caoutchouc et des matières plastiques, mais les augmentations n'étaient pas statistiquement significatives. L'incidence des cancers du sein était diminuée chez les agricultrices.
Par ailleurs les expositions professionnelles au benzène et au trichloréthylène étaient associées à un risque accru de cancer du sein chez l'homme, mais ces associations n'étaient pas confirmées chez la femme ayant des niveaux d'exposition professionnelle beaucoup plus faibles.
Au total, ces résultats confortent l'hypothèse que l'exposition aux solvants organiques à des niveaux relativement élevés peut jouer un rôle dans l'apparition du cancer du sein.

Source : Guénel P, Villeneuve S. Cancer du sein, professions et expositions professionnelles aux solvants organiques. Résultats de deux études épidémiologiques sur les cancers du sein chez l'homme et chez la femme. Saint-Maurice : Institut de veille sanitaire ; 2013. 55 p.
http://www.invs.sante.fr/Publications-et-outils/Rapports-et-syntheses/Travail-et-sante/2013/Cancer-du-sein-professions-et-expositions-professionnelles-aux-solvants-organiques

Psychoactive substance use by truck drivers

A systematic review
The aim of this study was to summarise the scientific evidence on the prevalence of psychoactive substance use and on the factors associated with their intake among truck drivers. A systematic review was performed in the databases PubMed, Scientific Electronic Library Online, Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences, and Cochrane and 36 cross-sectional studies were identified with quantitative results about the use of psychoactive substances by truck drivers. Out of these, 28 were carried out in countries with large land areas and 23 obtained their information through self-reporting. The most frequently studied substances were alcohol (n=25), amphetamines (n=17), marijuana (n=16) and cocaine (n=13). The prevalence of the use of these substances greatly varied: alcohol (0.1-91.0%); amphetamines (0.2-82.5%), marijuana (0.2-29.9%), cocaine (0.1-8.3%). The frequency of substance use was lower in studies that investigated the presence of these substances in biological samples than in those based on self-reported use. In 12 studies that evaluated factors associated with the intake of psychoactive substances, the following stood out: younger age, higher income, longer trips, alcohol consumption, driving in the night shift, travelling interstate routes, long or short sleep, fewer hours of rest, little experience of the driver, connection with small and medium sized companies, income below levels determined by labour agreements, productivity-based earnings and prior involvement in accidents. The frequency of psychoactive substance use by truck drivers seems to be high, although that greatly varies according to the type of substance and the method of collecting the information. The use of these substances was mainly associated with indicators of poor working conditions.

Source : Girotto E, Mesas AE, de Andrade SM, Birolim MM. Occup. Environ. Med. 2013.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2013-101452

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