PubMed | 14 July 2017

Exposure to Benzene in a Pooled Analysis of Petroleum Industry Case-Control Studies

Cases of lymphohematopoietic cancer from three petroleum industry cohorts, matched to controls from the respective cohort, were pooled into single study. Average benzene exposure was quantitatively estimated in part per million (ppm) for each job on the basis of measured data from the relevant country, adjusted for the specific time period, site, and job exposure characteristics and the certainty of the exposure estimate scored. The probability of dermal exposure and of peak exposure was also assessed.

Before risk was examined, an exposure estimate comparison and rationalization exercise was performed across the studies to ensure accuracy and consistency of approach. This paper evaluates the final exposure estimates and their use in the risk assessments.

Overall benzene exposure estimates were low; 90% of participants accumulated less than 20 ppm-years. Mean cumulative exposure was estimated as 5.15 ppm-years, mean duration was 22 years, and mean exposure intensity was 0.2 ppm. 46% of participants were allocated a peak exposure (>3 ppm at least weekly). 40% of participants had a high probability of dermal exposure (based on the relative probability of at least weekly exposure). There were differences in mean intensity of exposure, probability of peak or dermal exposure associated with job category, job site, and decade of exposure.

Terminal operators handling benzene-containing products were the most highly exposed group, followed by tanker drivers carrying gasoline. Exposures were higher around 1940–1950 and lower in more recent decades. Overall confidence in the exposure estimates was highest for recently held jobs and for white collar jobs.

The authors used sensitivity analyses that included and excluded case sets on the basis of exposure certainty scores to inform the risk assessment. The analyses demonstrated that the different patterns of exposure across the three studies are largely attributable to differences in jobs, site types, and time frames rather than study. This provides reassurance that the previous rationalization of exposures achieved interstudy consistency and that the data could be confidently pooled.

Journal of Travel Medicine | 28 June 2017

Medical Evacuations in the Oil and Gas Industry: A Retrospective Review With Implications for Future Evacuation and Preventative Strategies

Businesses increasingly conduct operations in remote areas where medical evacuation (medevac) carries more risk. Royal Dutch Shell developed a remote healthcare strategy whereby enhanced remote healthcare is made available to the patient through use of telemedicine and telemetry. To evaluate that strategy, a review of medevacs of Shell International employees was undertaken.

A retrospective review of medevac data that were similar in operational constraints and population profile was conducted. Employee records and human resource data were used as a denominator for the population. Analogous medevac data from specific locations were used to compare patterns of diagnoses.

A total of 130 medevacs were conducted during the study period, resulting in a medevac rate of 4 per 1,000 people with 16 per 1,000 for women and 3 per 1,000 for men. The youngest and oldest age-groups required medevacs in larger proportions. The evacuation rates were highest for countries classified as high or extreme risk. The most frequent diagnostic categories for medevac were trauma, digestive, musculoskeletal, cardiac, and neurological. In 9% of the total, a strong to moderate link could be made between the pre-existing medical condition and diagnosis leading to medevac.

This study uniquely provides a benchmark medevac rate (4 per 1,000) and demonstrates that medevac rates are highest from countries identified as high risk; there is an age and gender bias, and pre-existing medical conditions are of notable relevance. It confirms a change in the trend from injury to illness as a reason for medevac in the oil and gas industry and demonstrates that diagnoses of a digestive and traumatic nature are the most frequent. A holistic approach to health (as opposed to a predominant focus on fitness to work), more attention to female travelers, and the application of modern technology and communication will reduce the need for medevacs.

Find the full paper here.

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.