New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Applied Biosciences and Bioengineering".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2020) | Viewed by 31733

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Health Service Department, State Police, Ministry of Interior, Milan, Italy
2. Occupational Health Section of the Department of Life Sciences and Public Health, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Italy
Interests: psychosocial risks; burnout research; climate change; occupational epidemiology; global public health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Today, working environments are constantly changing, leading to the onset of new occupational hazards. In developed countries, on one side, globalization and economic crisis, new technologies and forms of employment and work organizations, as well as workforce aging pave the way to emerging physical inactivity and ergonomic stressors that increase the risks of musculoskeletal disorders, and to important psychosocial risks due to job insecurity, high workload and emotional demands that increase mental health issues. Moreover, there is an increased exposure to new chemical substances, including nanomaterials and unknown carcinogens that require new models in risk assessment and occupational epidemiology.

On the other side, labor in the informal workplace, child labor in agriculture and mining, as well as unregulated and unprotected exposure to many traditional risk factors at workplace, i.e., asbestos, silica dust, heavy metal poisoning, and noise, among others, are generating a lot of deaths attributable to occupational diseases and injuries. The industrial growth in developing nations has also increased the health problems by introducing new types of hazards.

Finally, in both developing and developed countries, globalization is leading to an increased volume of international transport of humans and animals and new immigration flows, and climate change is generating new risks for workers. Occupational exposure to thermal stress and to vector-borne diseases is a growing concern for outdoor workers. Environmental disasters, which once were defined as natural, increasingly recognize the human responsibility. The environmental and social conditions are changing the profile of the occupational hazards at global level with the onset of new important scenarios.

Managing these new emerging hazards could help to reach Sustainable Development Goal number 8. Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment and worker’s health.

In summary, this Special Issue is an opportunity for the scientific community and occupational stakeholders to present research on new emerging or challenging hazards from their own countries, to give insight into new challenges in occupational health and safety practice.

Prof. Nicola Magnavita
Dr. Francesco Chirico
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • Global occupational health
  • New and emerging risks
  • Psychosocial risks
  • New chemicals and carcinogens
  • Workforce aging
  • Asbestos
  • Climate change and occupational risks
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Globalization
  • New technologies
  • Occupational epidemiology
  • Immigrant health workers

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Editorial

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7 pages, 1153 KiB  
Editorial
New and Emerging Risk Factors in Occupational Health
by Nicola Magnavita and Francesco Chirico
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(24), 8906; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10248906 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 45 | Viewed by 4235
Abstract
Workplace health and safety is constantly evolving both in developed and developing countries. Under the tumultuous development of technology, working environments are changing, leading to the onset of new occupational hazards and unprecedented risk conditions deriving from the new ways of organizing work. [...] Read more.
Workplace health and safety is constantly evolving both in developed and developing countries. Under the tumultuous development of technology, working environments are changing, leading to the onset of new occupational hazards and unprecedented risk conditions deriving from the new ways of organizing work. At the same time, progress in medical science, with the knowledge in the fields of genetics, metabolomics, big data, and smart technologies, makes it possible to promptly identify and treat risk conditions that would have escaped notice in the past. Personalized occupational medicine represents the frontier of prevention in the workplace, from the perspective of total worker health and the sustainability of resources. The contributions to this Special Issue range from chemical, physical, and biological to psychosocial risks, and from the search for new ways to control long-known risks, such as mercury toxicity, to observations of the most frequent pathologies in the workplace in the last twenty years, such as repetitive trauma diseases, immunodeficiency transmitted as a result of biological injuries, and violence and psychological trauma in the workplace. New insights are needed in occupational health and safety practice to address the new challenges in this field. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
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Research

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9 pages, 233 KiB  
Article
Personalized Prevention in Mercury-Induced Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: A Case Report
by Nicola Magnavita, Mario Sabatelli, Egeria Scoditti and Francesco Chirico
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7839; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217839 - 05 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1857
Abstract
Chronic exposure to low levels of mercury is involved in the development of motor neuron diseases (MND). Genetic alterations may have a crucial role in the onset and progression. We presented a case of a TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1)-mutated 54-year-old male worker who [...] Read more.
Chronic exposure to low levels of mercury is involved in the development of motor neuron diseases (MND). Genetic alterations may have a crucial role in the onset and progression. We presented a case of a TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1)-mutated 54-year-old male worker who developed a MND due to chronic mercury exposure at work. He was employed in a chlor-alkali plant in Central Italy. After two years of employment he had acute mercury intoxication with suggestive neurological symptoms and a high urinary level of the metal. Through years, many episodes of intoxication occurred, but he continued to perform the same job and be exposed to mercury. After yet another episode of intoxication in 2013, he showed fasciculations of the upper limbs and trunk, and electromyographic activity patterns were consistent with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In 2016, a genetic test revealed a mutation of TBK1, an ALS-related gene. This case highlights the important role of genetics in personalized occupational medicine. Occupational physicians should use genetic tests to identify conditions of individual susceptibility in workers with documented frequent episodes of mercury intoxication recorded during health surveillance programs to customize prevention measures in the workplace and act before damage appears. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
10 pages, 229 KiB  
Article
The South African Nurse’s Knowledge of Occupational Human Immunodeficiency Virus Postexposure Prophylaxis in the Era of Controlled and Stable HIV Prevalence
by Melitah Molatelo Rasweswe and Mmapheko Doriccah Peu
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7784; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217784 - 03 Nov 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1733
Abstract
Knowledge is a crucial aspect of nursing. Nurses, just like any other healthcare workers (HCWs), are empowered with the knowledge of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP) protocol to be followed, including post-exposure to blood and body fluids (BBFs). The utilization of [...] Read more.
Knowledge is a crucial aspect of nursing. Nurses, just like any other healthcare workers (HCWs), are empowered with the knowledge of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Postexposure Prophylaxis (PEP) protocol to be followed, including post-exposure to blood and body fluids (BBFs). The utilization of HIV PEP demonstrated its capabilities to prevent HCWs from HIV infections. However, the practice in healthcare settings remains a challenge, as many HCWs do not adhere to the protocol. This study investigated how knowledgeable nurses are about HIV PEP in the era of controlled and stable HIV prevalence. Ninety-four nurses completed a self-administered questionnaire to provide information. A biostatistician assisted with data analysis, using Microsoft Excel converted to the STATA 13 format. Most (77.0%) were female with a mean age of 30 ± 9 years. The degree of knowledge was low, although the results showed that 90.43% of nurses had been informed about HIV PEP. Eighty (84%) did not know where to access HIV PEP, and (55.32%) were unaware of HIV PEP guidelines. A comparison between knowledge and work experience revealed that those with five years and less experience are less knowledgeable. There is a need to improve nurses’ knowledge of HIV PEP to reduce the risk of HIV acquisition from work-related activities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
14 pages, 1017 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Metrological Requirements in Occupational Health and Safety Regulations Related to the Emerging Risk of Exposure to Vibrations
by Raquel María Lorente-Pedreille, Francisco Brocal, María A. Saenz-Nuño and Miguel A. Sebastián
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7765; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217765 - 03 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2203
Abstract
In occupational exposure to vibration, the risk assessment process is defined through a regulatory framework that presents some relevant metrological problems. This framework considers methods based on estimation and on measurements. Estimation methods could employ existing information that is provided for each manufacturer [...] Read more.
In occupational exposure to vibration, the risk assessment process is defined through a regulatory framework that presents some relevant metrological problems. This framework considers methods based on estimation and on measurements. Estimation methods could employ existing information that is provided for each manufacturer to each individual tool or application to carry out such estimation. The use of estimation methods has some problems, such as substantial uncertainty. When using measurement methods, some metrological aspects are not fully defined. Therefore, a new and emerging risk appears due to certain methodologic limitations. Consequently, the variation between the estimated and the actual values could overestimate the level of occupational exposure to vibrations. Thus, with this paper, a critical analysis of this emerging metrological problem is provided. For this, a critical analysis of the metrological requirements regarding European standards is developed. To this end, the estimation method and measure method are investigated, considering, in both cases, the main factors related to uncertainty, reliability, and traceability. With this structure, a set of metrological limitations have been identified, thus pointing towards future lines of research that allow the improvement of the process of assessing the level of occupational exposure to vibrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
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11 pages, 261 KiB  
Article
A Circle of Violence: Are Burnout, Disengagement and Self-Efficacy in Non-University Teacher Victims of Workplace Violence New and Emergent Risks?
by Daniela Acquadro Maran and Tatiana Begotti
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(13), 4595; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10134595 - 02 Jul 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3691
Abstract
Workplace violence (WV) is defined as an intentional misuse of power, including threats of physical force against another person or group, which can cause physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social harm. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence, characteristics and [...] Read more.
Workplace violence (WV) is defined as an intentional misuse of power, including threats of physical force against another person or group, which can cause physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social harm. The aim of this study was to describe the prevalence, characteristics and consequences of WV in a sample of Italian teachers. Our hypothesis was that WV impacted workplace satisfaction, self-efficacy and burnout. A self-administered questionnaire was answered by 331 teachers. A total of 192 (58%) subjects reported experiencing a physical or psychological form of WV. Overall, findings confirmed our hypothesis: teacher victims of WV showed high levels of burnout—both in terms of exhaustion (F = 3.96; p = 0.04) and disengagement (F = 5.85; p = 0.016), lower levels of workplace satisfaction (F = 13.24; p < 0.001) and regulatory emotional self-efficacy—especially for negative emotions (F = 5.45; p = 0.02) compared with teachers who have never experienced WV. This investigation suggests the importance of preventing WV and offering support to victims. Doing so will increase teachers’ ability to manage and cope with violent behavior. Prevention and intervention may also decrease serious consequences in relation to victims’ wellbeing, and improve the general stability of the classroom, as well as motivation and academic commitment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)

Review

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14 pages, 893 KiB  
Review
How Occupational Mercury Neurotoxicity Is Affected by Genetic Factors. A Systematic Review
by Francesco Chirico, Egeria Scoditti, Carlo Viora and Nicola Magnavita
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(21), 7706; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10217706 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2192
Abstract
Occupational exposure to elemental mercury still represents a significant risk in the workplace. The sensitivity of the exposed subjects varies considerably. This study aims to summarize the literature on the role of genetic factors in occupationally exposed cohorts. A systematic search of the [...] Read more.
Occupational exposure to elemental mercury still represents a significant risk in the workplace. The sensitivity of the exposed subjects varies considerably. This study aims to summarize the literature on the role of genetic factors in occupationally exposed cohorts. A systematic search of the literature was carried out on PubMed Central (PMC), MEDLINE, and Google Scholar databases in accordance with the “Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses” (PRISMA) guidelines, from 1946 to July 2020. Ten cross-sectional studies were included in the review. All studies referred to the polymorphisms that can favour some neurotoxic effects of the metal in occupational cohorts. Some genetic variants may be associated with an increase in the occupational effects of mercury. Given the limited evidence, genetic screening of all mercury-exposed workers is not recommended. However, a personalized search for polymorphisms could be taken into consideration if exposed workers report early neurotoxic symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
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31 pages, 847 KiB  
Review
A Review of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Its Association with Age, Body Mass Index, Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Hand Dominance, and Sex
by Melissa Airem Cazares-Manríquez, Claudia Camargo Wilson, Ricardo Vardasca, Jorge Luis García-Alcaraz, Jesús Everardo Olguín-Tiznado, Juan Andrés López-Barreras and Blanca Rosa García-Rivera
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(10), 3488; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10103488 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 22 | Viewed by 9367
Abstract
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common compressive, canalicular neuropathies of the upper extremities, causing hand pain and impaired function. CTS results from compression or injury of the median nerve at the wrist within the confines of the carpal tunnel. [...] Read more.
Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is one of the most common compressive, canalicular neuropathies of the upper extremities, causing hand pain and impaired function. CTS results from compression or injury of the median nerve at the wrist within the confines of the carpal tunnel. Parameters such as age, sex, and body mass index (BMI) could be risk factors for CTS. This research work aimed to review the existing literature regarding the relationship between CTS and possible risk factors, such as age, sex, BMI, dominant hand, abdominal circumference, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and cardiac rate to determine which ones are the most influential, and therefore, take them into account in subsequent applied research in the manufacturing industry. We performed a literature search in the PubMed, EBSCO, and ScienceDirect databases using the following keywords: carpal tunnel syndrome AND (age OR sex OR BMI OR handedness OR abdominal circumference OR respiratory rate OR blood pressure OR cardiac rate). We chose 72 articles by analyzing the literature found based on selection criteria. We concluded that CTS is associated with age, female sex, and high BMI. Trends and future challenges have been proposed to delve into the relationship between risk factors and CTS, such as correlation studies on pain reduction, analysis of weight changes to predict the severity of this pathology, and its influence on clinical treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
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12 pages, 1091 KiB  
Review
Mindfulness for Preventing Psychosocial Risks in the Workplace: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
by María del Carmen Pérez-Fuentes, María del Mar Molero Jurado, Isabel Mercader Rubio, José Gabriel Soriano Sánchez and José Jesús Gázquez Linares
Appl. Sci. 2020, 10(5), 1851; https://doi.org/10.3390/app10051851 - 08 Mar 2020
Cited by 16 | Viewed by 5333
Abstract
Organizations today are implementing psychological interventions to promote the job performance and wellbeing of their employees. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can contribute to providing workers with competencies and skills and develop their strengths. MBIs are therefore becoming more and more present in the workplace, [...] Read more.
Organizations today are implementing psychological interventions to promote the job performance and wellbeing of their employees. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) can contribute to providing workers with competencies and skills and develop their strengths. MBIs are therefore becoming more and more present in the workplace, sometimes using online intervention programs, which offer a promising direction in prevention and intervention for health. The objective of this study is to analyze the efficacy of MBIs on psychological variables in the workplace. For this purpose, a search for scientific articles published from 2009 to 2019 was made in the Psicodoc, PsycINFO, and Web of Science databases, where a total of 468 articles were found. After filtering with preestablished inclusion criteria, 24 studies were included in the systematic review and meta-analysis. The results of the meta-analysis suggest that intervention in mindfulness positively influences psychological variables related to employee health and wellbeing. However, it is recommended to continue performing new studies to confirm this finding. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New and Emerging Risks in Occupational Health)
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