Examples of occupational diseases and occupations at risk
MinersMiners are at risk of developing silicosis. Workers who suffer from silicosis are even more susceptible to infections such as tuberculosis. Miners are also at risk of developing other lung diseases such as chronic obstructive lung disease, coal workers pneumoconiosis and even cancer, due to their exposure to stone dust. The largest quantities of airborne dust in mining are produced by blasting operations and mechanical mining systems. Mechanical operations that produce airborne dust include drilling, scraping, barring, lashing, tipping and loading.©Simon Henry David Mamuya All workers at a mine are potentially at risk from exposure to airborne respirable dust. This includes both underground and surface workers. © Christophe Meneboeuf, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 In the fourth week of the course we will tell you more about both different work-related lung diseases and cancer.
Agricultural activitiesIn most developing countries, agricultural activities have so far been one of the most important factors driving a country’s economy. New agricultural activities are emerging, such as the production of cut flowers in greenhouses. The numbers of cut flower producing countries are increasing, particularly among developing nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The use of different chemicals, such as pesticides, has increased enormously in this sector lately. As these substances are used to kill organisms, many of them are also very toxic for human beings. Hence, workers in agriculture are at risk of intoxications due to exposure to these pesticides.
Farmers spraying pesticides on a rice field.© Colourbox
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Occupational Health in Developing Countries
Paint manufacturing industryIn the paint manufacturing industry workers are exposed to volatile organic compounds. This kind of exposure put the workers at risk of developing both toxic encephalopathy and cancer. Both conditions only develop after several years of exposure to volatile organic compounds, but acute effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and loss of coordination are indicative of there being overly high exposure levels of organic solvents in the work environment. Production of automotive paint. In this coating, organic solvents are required to spread a protective and decorative film.
© G. Tjalvin It is especially important to notice that special kinds of respiratory protective equipment are required to avoid exposure to volatile organic compounds.
© G. Tjalvin In the second week of this course, we will teach you more about organic solvents and their health effects.
Construction businessPeople working in the construction business are often exposed to high levels of noise from, for instance, big construction machinery and different pneumatic or electric tools. If the workers do not protect themselves by using hearing protection, the noise exposure can lead to permanent hearing impairment. Workers using hand held vibrating tools such as pneumatic hammers or drills are also at risk of developing musculo-skeletal and neurological disorders. Workers using a pneumatic hammer drills can develop conditions including hand-arm vibration syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as low back pain and arthrosis. While these are all work-related, not all of them may be recognized as occupational diseases.© Colourbox You will learn more about noise, vibration and other physical exposures in the work environment during the third week of this course. Musculo-skeletal disorders will be dealt with during the fourth week.
Health care workersAll kinds of health care workers are at risk of contracting contagious diseases such as tuberculosis while taking care of their patients. Through blood sampling and handling of biological specimens, health care personnel are at risk of contracting different blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C. Even dentists can contract blood borne diseases while they are taking care of their patients. Preventive measures including the use of gloves and appropriate handling of used needles is important to avoid adverse health effects among the workers. The use of appropriate gloves protects health care personnel from infectious agents when handling blood samples.
© G. Tjalvin During the next week of the course, you will learn more about occupational infections. Different kinds of health care personnel are exposed to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, during their work. Interventional cardiologists and radiologist are especially at risk for this kind of exposure. The lens of the eye is one of the most radiosensitive tissues in the body, and exposure of the lens to ionizing radiation can cause cataracts. Cumulative X-ray doses to the lenses of interventional cardiologists and associated staff can be high, and there is an urgent need to educate these professionals in radiation protection to reduce the likelihood of them developing cataracts.
© G. Tjalvin You will learn more about the health effects of ionizing radiation during the third week of this course.
HairdressersHairdressers are at risk of developing hand eczema due to irritant or allergy provoking properties of different chemicals used for bleaching and colouring. Even the wet environment associated with hair washing, makes the hairdresser’s skin more vulnerable to the effect of both allergenic and irritating chemicals. Hairdressers are even at risk of developing work-related rhinitis and asthma, as well as musculo-skeletal diseases. Henna used as hair dye is sometimes mixed with extremely allergy-provoking components such as the synthetic colour para-phenylenediamine (PPD). Many countries, both developing and developed, have poorly defined regulations regarding cosmetic ingredient labeling.
© G. Tjalvin We will talk more about work-related skin diseases, as well as lung and musculo-skeletal diseases during the fourth week of this course.
Workers who survive a life-threatening incidentWorkers who survive a life-threatening incident at work are at risk of developing Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. Rescue personnel are examples of a work occupation where there is a risk for developing a post-traumatic stress disorder. Other examples of occupations at risk are bank clerks who are threatened or shot at by an armed robber and miners who survive after being trapped in a collapsing mine. Fire fighters often experience or witness life-threatening events.© Colourbox In the fifth week of the course we will tell you more about PTSD.
Occupational Health in Developing Countries
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