Special Issue "The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Lucian-Ionel Cioca
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Engineering and Management, Faculty of Engineering, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Victoriei 10, 550024 Sibiu, Romania
Interests: management; human resources management; occupational health and safety management; production systems engineering; ergonomics; circular economy
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Diana Popa-Andrei
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Department of Medical Recovery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Victor Babes" Timisoara, Piata E. Murgu 2, 300041 Timisoara, Romania

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The rapid effects in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic on the musculoskeletal system are due to physical and mental inactivity caused by environmental factors (isolation from both nature and social distancing).
The COVID-19 pandemic is a major challenge for all organizations. Biological agents may affect occupational safety, while personal protective equipment used during the pandemic may affect the environment. Distance working or online education may impact upon the mental health of the population. That is why it is important to study the effects of the pandemic on occupational and environmental safety.

Prof. Dr. Lucian-Ionel Cioca
Dr. Diana Popa-Andrei
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • digital health
  • health ecology and the environment
  • environmental analysis and methods
  • environmental health
  • environmental microbiology
  • environmental remediation and management
  • environmental science and engineering
  • health economics
  • industrial ecology
  • occupational safety and health
  • public health statistics and risk assessment
  • toxicology and public health
  • musculoskeletal
  • physical inactivity
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • isolation
  • comorbidities
  • well-being
  • mental health
  • food management
  • the physical and mental health of the elderly

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Teleworking and Education in a Romanian Higher Education Institution: An Internal Stakeholders Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(15), 8180; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158180 - 02 Aug 2021
Viewed by 603
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the conditions for the expansion of teleworking (TW) in numerous sectors and organizations, and higher education institutions (HEIs) have had to adapt to this context. This paper aims to identify and analyze five factors (technology, individual involvement and [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created the conditions for the expansion of teleworking (TW) in numerous sectors and organizations, and higher education institutions (HEIs) have had to adapt to this context. This paper aims to identify and analyze five factors (technology, individual involvement and skills, physical inactivity, psychological well-being, and household activities) that influence the effort and results in TW and education (E) in HEIs from the perspective of their key internal stakeholders. The data were gathered by a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as interviews and surveys. They were analyzed and interpreted through factorial analysis that uses the presentation of the main components as an extraction method, with the Varimax rotation method adopting Kaiser normalization, and processed with SPSS statistical software. This study shows that the effort and results of the key internal stakeholders of HEIs are influenced by the five factors. In this respect, students’ results are negatively influenced by technology and physical inactivity factors. Moreover, the efforts of auxiliary and non-teaching staff are highly positively influenced by the psychological well-being factor and their results are positively influenced by the individual involvement and skills factor and negatively influenced by the household activities factor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
Psychosocial Work Environment and Teachers’ Psychological Well-Being: The Moderating Role of Job Control and Social Support
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7308; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147308 - 08 Jul 2021
Viewed by 723
Abstract
Nowadays, the issue of teachers’ psychological well-being causes serious concern, especially in Malaysia. Many studies related to psychological well-being have focused on students rather than on the health and well-being of teachers. Thus, the current study investigated the determinants of psychological well-being (depression, [...] Read more.
Nowadays, the issue of teachers’ psychological well-being causes serious concern, especially in Malaysia. Many studies related to psychological well-being have focused on students rather than on the health and well-being of teachers. Thus, the current study investigated the determinants of psychological well-being (depression, anxiety and stress) from the psychosocial work environment (job control, job demands and social support), and examined the moderating role of job control and social support in the relationship between job demands and psychological well-being among teachers. The design of this study was quantitative research through a survey questionnaire. The sample consisted of 335 high school teachers (23.3%—male; 76.7%—female) who responded to measuring scales of job demands, job control, social support, depression, anxiety and stress, and socio-demographic profile. The data were analyzed using two statistical methods, namely descriptive and inferential statistics. The hierarchical linear regression model was used to analyze the data by assisting the statistical software, i.e., SPSS-23. The results showed that job demands, job control and social support significantly predicted teachers’ psychological well-being. Furthermore, the effect of job demands on teachers’ depression and anxiety was partially moderated by job control and social support. In conclusion, this study has successfully identified the significant predictors of teachers’ psychological well-being and the role of job control and social support as a moderating variable to teachers’ psychological well-being in Malaysia. The result provides insights and contributes to the literature of teachers’ psychological well-being determinants and involves Malaysian respondents with a collectivistic eastern culture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
Development of a Pandemic Residual Risk Assessment Tool for Building Organizational Resilience within Polish Enterprises
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 6948; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18136948 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 654
Abstract
The purpose of the research paper was to develop a universal residual risk assessment tool based on the use of risk control measures related to Covid-19 in order to determine the state of organizational resilience of individual industries or organizations. The article proposes [...] Read more.
The purpose of the research paper was to develop a universal residual risk assessment tool based on the use of risk control measures related to Covid-19 in order to determine the state of organizational resilience of individual industries or organizations. The article proposes and analyzes a pandemic residual risk assessment tool, which is a simple and universal source for residual risk estimation based on a five-step consequence/probability matrix, a five-step hierarchy of risk controls, and a general formula for calculating residual risk. The methodology of the survey is based on a questionnaire with 16 questions used for the initial validation of the residual risk scale, of which six related to the potential of organizational resilience. The pilot survey was conducted in 66 enterprises in Poland. On the basis of the survey, four measures related to the use of control measures against threats after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic have been proposed. These are personal protective equipment (PPE) controls, administrative controls, engineering controls, and substitution controls. Using the survey results, we estimated averages of the response results, and, on their basis, we estimated the residual risks for individual types of enterprises according to the type of business and its size. Based on the calculations, a strong correlation was found between the potential of organizational resilience and the individual use of control measures. Therefore, the main finding of the survey proves that effective risk management builds organizational resilience in enterprises. The practical implications of the study allow the management staff to find out what aspects related to the use of control measures need to be paid attention to in order to minimize residual risk. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
The Impact of the COVID-19 Self-Isolation Policy on the Occupations of Vulnerable Groups
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6452; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126452 - 15 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1012
Abstract
Today, the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact on world public health and bring about considerable human suffering partly due to government policies on reducing the spread. COVID-19 has significantly affected human health and it has impacted on the [...] Read more.
Today, the spread of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues to impact on world public health and bring about considerable human suffering partly due to government policies on reducing the spread. COVID-19 has significantly affected human health and it has impacted on the occupation of vulnerable groups such as tour guides, drivers and shop assistants. Of these, the present study aims to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 self-isolation policy on the occupation of vulnerable groups in Semarang City, Indonesia. To achieve this objective, this study uses a qualitative method with an ethnography approach considering a rational or non-rational thinking model. The binary opposition thinking pattern pioneered by Lévi-Strauss was used in the interview process with 25 informants in Semarang City, Indonesia. The data analyzed the response pattern of informants through the taxonomy analysis. Three levels of vulnerability among groups relating to occupation were identified; jobs lost, income decreased, and delayed salary. The result of the analysis found that the group who obeyed self-isolation was categorized as a rational thinking; these groups stay at home, do not go to work, and have no income. Besides that, the group who ignored self-isolation is categorized as non-rational thinking; they work, as usual, get their salary, and believe that the COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster and they pray for their safety to God. In conclusion, COVID-19 brings a significant impact on occupation in the forms of postponing, declining, and missing income besides the health effects among vulnerable groups in Semarang city, Indonesia. In avoiding COVID-19 infection, the circumstances of vulnerable groups are worse when self-isolation is required. Thus, this study suggests that the government needs to assist vulnerable groups by focusing on strategic policies, such as strategies for survival, providing access to basic needs, including health, and offering livelihood plans by providing access to medical services and other source of income. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
Article
A Decision-Tree Approach to Assist in Forecasting the Outcomes of the Neonatal Brain Injury
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4807; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094807 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1170
Abstract
Neonatal brain injury or neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a significant morbidity and mortality factor in preterm and full-term newborns. NE has an incidence in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 per 1000 live births carrying a considerable burden for neurological outcomes such as [...] Read more.
Neonatal brain injury or neonatal encephalopathy (NE) is a significant morbidity and mortality factor in preterm and full-term newborns. NE has an incidence in the range of 2.5 to 3.5 per 1000 live births carrying a considerable burden for neurological outcomes such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, cognitive impairments, and hydrocephaly. Many scoring systems based on different risk factor combinations in regression models have been proposed to predict abnormal outcomes. Birthweight, gestational age, Apgar scores, pH, ultrasound and MRI biomarkers, seizures onset, EEG pattern, and seizure duration were the most referred predictors in the literature. Our study proposes a decision-tree approach based on clinical risk factors for abnormal outcomes in newborns with the neurological syndrome to assist in neonatal encephalopathy prognosis as a complementary tool to the acknowledged scoring systems. We retrospectively studied 188 newborns with associated encephalopathy and seizures in the perinatal period. Etiology and abnormal outcomes were assessed through correlations with the risk factors. We computed mean, median, odds ratios values for birth weight, gestational age, 1-min Apgar Score, 5-min Apgar score, seizures onset, and seizures duration monitoring, applying standard statistical methods first. Subsequently, CART (classification and regression trees) and cluster analysis were employed, further adjusting the medians. Out of 188 cases, 84 were associated to abnormal outcomes. The hierarchy on etiology frequencies was dominated by cerebrovascular impairments, metabolic anomalies, and infections. Both preterms and full-terms at risk were bundled in specific categories defined as high-risk 75–100%, intermediate risk 52.9%, and low risk 0–25% after CART algorithm implementation. Cluster analysis illustrated the median values, profiling at a glance the preterm model in high-risk groups and a full-term model in the inter-mediate-risk category. Our study illustrates that, in addition to standard statistics methodologies, decision-tree approaches could provide a first-step tool for the prognosis of the abnormal outcome in newborns with encephalopathy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
Risk Assessment of the SME Sector Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4183; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18084183 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1613
Abstract
The subject matter of the article relates to the assessment of the perception of selected types of risk in economic activities of the SME sector, which change their intensity as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current economic downturn [...] Read more.
The subject matter of the article relates to the assessment of the perception of selected types of risk in economic activities of the SME sector, which change their intensity as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The current economic downturn is unprecedented and involves many companies and industries that have faced new, previously unknown challenges and threats. The objective of the article is to identify the most important risks and their resources based on the empirical research carried out in small and medium-sized enterprises in Poland. The formulated objective was accomplished using the data collection method, i.e., the survey and reports on the condition of the SME sector in Poland as well as statistical data analysis methods, i.e., structure index and the analysis of variance, using the SPSS system. The process of primary data collection was carried out by means of an electronic survey among selected enterprises of the SME sector, conducting business activities in Poland. In the study, the employment factor was taken into account as a determinant of the perception and assessment of the intensity of selected risks arising from the economic activity in the Polish market in the conditions of the current economic downturn. On the basis of the obtained results, the impact of market, economic, financial and operational risks, depending on their intensity, on the functioning of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises was identified. Based on the analysis of variance, the effect of the size of the company on the level of individual risks was also examined. As a result of the observations made, it was established that, during the pandemic, the level and type of risk is similar in all the surveyed enterprises. They are most often threatened by strong competition in the industry, an increase in energy prices and insufficient profit. The overall results of the empirical research indicate the importance and the need to manage the key threats to the Polish SME sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
Accentuating the Interrelation between Consumer Intention and Healthy Packaged Food Selection during COVID-19: A Case Study of Pakistan
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2846; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062846 - 11 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 982
Abstract
This study contemplates the factors that influence consumer intention, before and during the eruption of COVID-19, for the selection of healthy packaged food in Pakistan. The extant studies have identified two distinct attitudes of consumers about food label information: one is its usefulness [...] Read more.
This study contemplates the factors that influence consumer intention, before and during the eruption of COVID-19, for the selection of healthy packaged food in Pakistan. The extant studies have identified two distinct attitudes of consumers about food label information: one is its usefulness and the second elucidates the avoidance. Hence forth, the current study contributes to the extant literature while signifying both reasons which motivate consumers to read food labels and reasons which discourage consumers from consult food labels at the point of purchase. Moreover, the impact of subjective norms and self-efficacy for healthy packaged food intentions has also been examined for both before the emergence of COVID-19 and during the spread of COVID-19. The underpinning of the proposed model has been justified by the behavioral reasoning theory. The cross-sectional data of 14,455 students has was collected from 10 universities through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. AMOS 21 was employed for the final analysis. The results indicate that before COVID-19 the subjective norms and self-efficacy were not the stimulating factors for the selection of healthy packaged food. On the contrary, during the COVID-19 outbreak, the subjective norms and self-efficacy divulged a significant effect. Moreover, the reasons to consult food labels are positively significant whereas the reasons to avoid food labels have negatively affected the consumer, both before COVID-19 and during COVID-19 outbreak, while endorsing healthy packaged food. Conclusively, COVID-19 has been proved to be a deterrent for unhealthy packaged food lovers while being a blessing for healthy packaged food. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
The Safety of Slaughterhouse Workers during the Pandemic Crisis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(5), 2633; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18052633 - 05 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1004
Abstract
The working conditions in a slaughterhouse are difficult because of the low temperatures, high humidity, and little natural light. Therefore, in these facilities, there is a high demand in the maintenance of strict hygiene rules. Lately, the new SARS-CoV-2 pandemic situation has brought [...] Read more.
The working conditions in a slaughterhouse are difficult because of the low temperatures, high humidity, and little natural light. Therefore, in these facilities, there is a high demand in the maintenance of strict hygiene rules. Lately, the new SARS-CoV-2 pandemic situation has brought new challenges in the meat industry, as this sector has to maintain its operability to supply the meat and meat products demanded by the consumers. In this challenging period, the safety of the workers is as important as keeping the high demands for the safety of the meat and meat products along with consumer confidence. This paper aims to give an overview of the risks associated with the SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission between the workers in slaughterhouses and to evaluate the stability and infectivity in the working environment of these facilities. Considering the persistence of this virus on different surfaces and the environmental conditions affecting its stability (temperature, relative humidity, and natural light), in the study we proposed several short-, medium-, and long-term preventive measures for minimizing the potential threats of the actual pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Article
Effect of COVID-19 Pandemic on Orthopedic Surgery in Three Centers from Romania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 2196; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18042196 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1010
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous burden on healthcare systems. As a direct consequence, many elective procedures were cancelled and available resources were relocated to emergencies and COVID-19 patients. We aimed to analyze the impact on orthopedic surgery in Romania. We performed [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an enormous burden on healthcare systems. As a direct consequence, many elective procedures were cancelled and available resources were relocated to emergencies and COVID-19 patients. We aimed to analyze the impact on orthopedic surgery in Romania. We performed a retrospective analysis of orthopedics and trauma cases admitted over the first six months of 2019 and 2020 in three representative clinics. In total, there were 1900 patients: 1241 from Timisoara, 216 from Cluj-Napoca, and 443 from Bucharest. In April, activity for all cases in the regional trauma center dropped to 23.8% and stopped in the other two. No arthroscopies or elective joint replacements were performed in April. By June, hospital admissions resumed for trauma cases while arthroscopies and joint replacements still lagged behind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
Article
Supporting Role of Society and Firms to COVID-19 Management among Medical Practitioners
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 7961; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17217961 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 1764
Abstract
Measurement of job stress and employees’ commitment are few of the admired topics in the corporate world amongst business writers. With a principal aim to trial the blow of exposure to COVID-19 patients on doctors’ job stress and commitment, in Pakistan; data have [...] Read more.
Measurement of job stress and employees’ commitment are few of the admired topics in the corporate world amongst business writers. With a principal aim to trial the blow of exposure to COVID-19 patients on doctors’ job stress and commitment, in Pakistan; data have been collected through 7-10 min telephonic interview from voluntary participants and a sample of 129 responses were analyzed by Structure Equation Modeling-Partial Least Square (SEM-PLS) path modeling through Smart PLS 3.2. The results of the study indicated; direct positive & significant impact of Extent of Exposure on Job Stress while direct negative, significant association with Commitment. Job Stress also observed having direct negative impact on commitment. The Extent of Exposure-Job Stress relationship was also found stronger among group of doctors having Low level of Perceived Organizational Support and weaker among group of doctors having High level of Perceive Organizational support. Perceived Organizational Support showed a moderating effect on the Extent of Exposure-Job Stress relationship; while, Social Support showed no moderation. Researchers are required to investigate more and management of the medical services providers (both hospitals and government) needs to focus on doctors’ perception about Organizational Support, as doctors show no concern about the support from society as long as their well-being is cared for by respective hospitals. This study is an effort to stimulate more empirical evidence towards the treating and handling of COVID-19 patients and the psychological well-being of doctors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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Systematic Review
Prevalence and Determinants of Immediate and Long-Term PTSD Consequences of Coronavirus-Related (CoV-1 and CoV-2) Pandemics among Healthcare Professionals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 2182; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18042182 - 23 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1695
Abstract
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise. In order to control the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have been subjected to increased exposure to work stress. In this systematic review, we aimed at investigating the prevalence and determinants of immediate and long-term post-traumatic stress [...] Read more.
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise. In order to control the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have been subjected to increased exposure to work stress. In this systematic review, we aimed at investigating the prevalence and determinants of immediate and long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) effects on healthcare professionals by the COVID-19 (SARS CoV-2) and SARS-2003 (SARS CoV-1) pandemics. Methods: This systematic review was conducted according to the recommendations of the Protocols for Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement. Only studies reporting the prevalence of PTSD (frequency, percentage) and related risk factors (adjusted odds ratio (OR)) in healthcare professionals (HCPs) during the SARS CoV-2 and SARS CoV-1 pandemics were included. The following databases were screened: Medline, Embase, PsychINFO, and Health Psychosocial Instrument (HaPI). Results: Six of eight studies reported PTSD symptoms among healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic in China (three), Singapore (one), India (one), and the United States of America (USA) (two), while two studies reported symptoms during the SARS-2003 pandemic in China (one) and Singapore (one). Sample sizes ranged from 263 to 5062 with a combined total of 10,074 participants. All of the studies self-reported the level of exposure to coronaviruses (CoV-1 and CoV-2) and severity of PTSD. Seven studies reported the prevalence of immediate PTSD and determinants, while one study reported delayed-onset PTSD (3 years after CoV-1 pandemic). Determinants of immediate PTSD were reported for the CoV-2 pandemic, while those for long-term PTSD were reported for the CoV-1 pandemic. Conclusions: A comprehensive understanding of the prevalence and determinants of immediate or long-term pandemic PTSD for healthcare workers can improve prevention, diagnosis, and management. Rigorous research measuring the prevalence of PTSD and its associated risk factors (adjusted OR) for the CoV-2 pandemic are envisaged. Although strategies to resolve immediate PTSD are key, long-term PTSD must not be overlooked. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Effects of the Pandemic on Occupational and Environmental Safety)
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