Special Issue "Occupational Safety and Health Interventions to Ensure Decent Work for All by 2030"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Julius Fobil
Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
University of Ghana School of Public Health, Department of Biological, Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, Legon, Ghana
Interests: Urban environmental health in low-income economies; sanitation infrastructure; neighbourhood environmental conditions, environmental change and area-based socioeconomic inequalities on human health; environmental exposure assessment, environmental waste and pollution, informal sector, electronic waste (e-waste) recycling/processing, artisanal gold mining, informal
Ms. Suvi Lehtinen

Guest Editor
Chief of International Affairs of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, FIOH, Retired
Interests: Editing and publishing professional journals, communication of information in occupational health, international occupational health, occupational health and development
Prof. Jorma Rantanen

Guest Editor
Department of Public Health/Occupational Health, University of Helsinki, Finland
Interests: Occupational health services, Surveillance of workers’ health, International occupational health and globalization, Evaluation of occupational health, Occupational health risk assessment, Promotion and maintenance of work ability
Prof. Rosemary Sokas
Website
Guest Editor
School of Nursing & Health Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA
Interests: Occupational Health Disparities; Vulnerable Workers; Participatory Action Research; Intervention Effectiveness; Home Care Workers; Construction Workers; Migrant Workers

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all members of the United Nations, is framed around 17 sustainable development goals.  Goal 8 issues a call to “Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.  Decent work encompasses dimensions such as security and income, is based on workers having a meaningful voice, and fundamentally predicated on work that is healthy, safe, and secure. Compelling research demonstrates the disproportionate risk encountered by vulnerable workers (such as young, aging or pregnant workers, those with physical impairments or those experiencing multiple disadvantages; workers in high-risk jobs (such as those working in hazardous conditions in construction, mining, agriculture, healthcare, micro-enterprises etc.) and those who may be underserved by reason of social marginalization through lack of work authorization, precarious or extra-legal employment arrangements, or other circumstances. The specific needs of each of these groups present challenges to achieving the goal of decent work for all.  Important research suggests the effectiveness of participatory interventions that utilize labor unions or immigrant worker centers to engage workers’ voices in the safety and health process, but more is needed.  This Special Issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) focuses on the evaluation of promising occupational safety and health interventions that promote decent work for all.  Papers that address interventions at all levels are invited, particularly those that engage workers in the development, implementation and evaluation phases.

Prof. Julius Fobil
Ms. Suvi Lehtinen
Prof. Jorma Rantanen
Prof. Rosemary Sokas
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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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

  • Safety Culture
  • Informal Sector
  • Vulnerable Workers
  • Occupational Safety and Health
  • Unions and health
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Occupational Health and Safety in Low and Middle-Income Countries
  • Occupational Health Services
  • Capacity-building
  • Decent work
  • Quality of working life

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
The Italian National Surveillance System for Occupational Injuries: Conceptual Framework and Fatal Outcomes, 2002–2016
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(20), 7631; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207631 - 20 Oct 2020
Abstract
Background: A national database of work-related injuries has been established in Italy since 2002, collecting information on the injured person, his/her work tasks, the workplace and the risk factors contributing to incident dynamics, according to a model called Infor.Mo. Methods: A descriptive study [...] Read more.
Background: A national database of work-related injuries has been established in Italy since 2002, collecting information on the injured person, his/her work tasks, the workplace and the risk factors contributing to incident dynamics, according to a model called Infor.Mo. Methods: A descriptive study of occupational fatal injuries, excluding work-related fatal traffic injuries, that occurred in Italy from 2002 to 2016 (15 years) was performed. Results: Among 4874 victims involved, all were males, mainly >51 years of age (43.2%), predominantly self-employed (27.8%) or workers with non-standard contracts (25%). About 18.4% and 17.3% of fatal events occurred in micro-enterprises belonging to, respectively, construction and agriculture. A wide range of nationalities (59 countries in addition to Italy) was identified. Overall, 18.9% of work-related fatal injuries were due to some form of hazardous energy—mechanical, thermal, electrical or chemical—that was normally present in the workplace. Workers’ falls from height (33.5%), heavy loads falling on workers from height (16.7%) and vehicles exiting their route and overturning (15.9%) were the events causing the greatest proportion of occupational fatal injuries in the present study (from 2002 to 2016) and in the initial pilot phase, focused on years 2002–2004, with a similar distribution of fatal events between the two time periods. The activity of the injured person made up 43.3% of 9386 risk factors identified in 4874 fatalities. Less common risk factors were related to work equipment (20.2%), work environment (14.9%), third–party activity (9.8%), personal protective equipment/clothing (8.0%) and materials (3.7%). The activity of the injured person remained the most relevant contributing factor even when the incident was caused by two or more risk factors. Discussion: Occupational fatal injuries occurred mainly in small size firms (up to nine employees) in hazardous workplaces. Small companies, which account for 68% (2888/4249) of all firms in the present study, generally have fewer resources to remain current with the continuously evolving health and safety at work regulations; moreover, these firms tend to be less compliant with health and safety at work regulations since they are less likely to be inspected by occupational vigilance services. Perspectives: An approach being introduced in Italy relies on the use of economic incentives to promote safe and healthy workplaces. The comparison of pre-intervention and post-intervention rates of work-related injuries by means of interrupted time series analyses could detect whether the intervention will have an effect significantly greater than the underlying secular trend. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Designing a Participatory Total Worker Health® Organizational Intervention for Commercial Construction Subcontractors to Improve Worker Safety, Health, and Well-Being: The “ARM for Subs” Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(14), 5093; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145093 - 15 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Evidence supports organizational interventions as being effective for improving worker safety, health and well-being; however, there is a paucity of evidence-based interventions for subcontracting companies in commercial construction. Methods: A theory-driven approach supplemented by formative research through key stakeholder interviews and focus [...] Read more.
Background: Evidence supports organizational interventions as being effective for improving worker safety, health and well-being; however, there is a paucity of evidence-based interventions for subcontracting companies in commercial construction. Methods: A theory-driven approach supplemented by formative research through key stakeholder interviews and focus groups and an iterative vetting process with stakeholders, resulted in the development of an intervention for subcontractors in the commercial construction industry. We piloted the intervention in one subcontracting commercial construction company. We used these findings to adapt and finalize the intervention design to be tested in a future large-scale trial. Results: There were several key findings from the formative research, including challenges faced by companies and assets that should be considered in the intervention design. This resulted in a communication infrastructure company-based, continual improvement, participatory intervention design, consisting of a needs assessment and report, committee-led prioritization, action planning and implementation, and worker communication/feedback cycle. The pilot contributed to the final intervention design with modifications made with respect to timing, implementation support, capacity building, adaptability and sustainability. Conclusions: The use of a theory-driven participatory approach to developing an integrated organizational intervention for commercial construction subcontracting companies was important and necessary. It allowed us to consider the empirical evidence and relevant theories and tailor these to meet the needs of our target population. This study gives pragmatic insight into the early development of a complex intervention, with practical experience of how we adapted our intervention at each stage. This intervention will be tested in a future randomized trial. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Decent Work, ILO’s Response to the Globalization of Working Life: Basic Concepts and Global Implementation with Special Reference to Occupational Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3351; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103351 - 12 May 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Twenty years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a new strategy, the Decent Work Agenda, to ensure human-oriented development in the globalization of working life and to provide an effective response to the challenges of globalization. We searched for and analysed the [...] Read more.
Twenty years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched a new strategy, the Decent Work Agenda, to ensure human-oriented development in the globalization of working life and to provide an effective response to the challenges of globalization. We searched for and analysed the origin of the Decent Work concept and identified the key principles in ILO policy documents, survey reports, and relevant United Nations’ (UN) documents. We also analysed the implementation of the Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) and examined the available external evaluation reports. Finally, we examined the objectives of the ILO Decent Work Agenda and the Decent Work targets in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in view of occupational health. In two thirds of the ILO’s Member States, the Decent Work Agenda has been successfully introduced and so far fully or partly implemented in their DWCPs. The sustainability of the Decent Work approach was ensured through the UN 2030 Agenda, the ILO Global Commission Report on the Future of Work, and the ILO Centenary Declaration. However, objectives in line with the ILO Convention No. 161 on Occupational Health Services were not found in the DWCPs. Although successful in numerous aspects in terms of the achievement of the Decent Work objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Decent Work Agenda and the Decent Work Country Programmes need further development and inclusion of the necessary strategies, objectives, and actions for occupational health services, particularly in view of the high burden of work-related diseases and, for example, the present global pandemic. In many countries, national capabilities for participation and implementation of Decent Work Country Programmes need strengthening. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Courses on Basic Occupational Safety and Health: A Train-the-Trainer Educational Program for Rural Areas of Latin America
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1842; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061842 - 12 Mar 2020
Abstract
Integrating basic occupational health services into primary care is encouraged by the Pan American Health Organization. However, concrete initiatives are still scarce. We aimed to develop a training program focusing on prevention of occupational risks for primary healthcare professionals. This train-the-trainer program was [...] Read more.
Integrating basic occupational health services into primary care is encouraged by the Pan American Health Organization. However, concrete initiatives are still scarce. We aimed to develop a training program focusing on prevention of occupational risks for primary healthcare professionals. This train-the-trainer program was piloted at four universities in Chile and Peru. Occupational health or primary healthcare lecturers formed a team with representative(s) of one rural primary healthcare center connected to their university (Nparticipants = 15). Training started with a workshop on participatory diagnosis of working conditions. Once teams had conducted the participatory diagnosis in the rural communities, they designed in a second course an active teaching intervention. The intervention was targeted at the main occupational health problem of the community. After implementation of the intervention, teams evaluated the program. Evaluation results were very positive with an overall score of 9.7 out of 10. Teams reported that the methodology enabled them to visualize hazardous working conditions. They also stated that the training improved their abilities for problem analysis and preventive actions. Aspects like time constraints and difficult geographical access were mentioned as challenges. In summary, addressing occupational health in primary care through targeted training modules is feasible, but long-term health outcomes need to be evaluated. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Health Consequences for E-Waste Workers and Bystanders—A Comparative Cross-Sectional Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1534; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051534 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Informal e-waste recycling is associated with several health hazards. Thus far, the main focus of research in the e-waste sector has been to assess the exposure site, such as the burden of heavy metals or organic pollutants. The aim of this study was [...] Read more.
Informal e-waste recycling is associated with several health hazards. Thus far, the main focus of research in the e-waste sector has been to assess the exposure site, such as the burden of heavy metals or organic pollutants. The aim of this study was to comprehensively assess the health consequences associated with informal e-waste recycling. A questionnaire-based assessment regarding occupational information, medical history, and current symptoms and complaints was carried out with a group of n = 84 e-waste workers and compared to a control cohort of n = 94 bystanders at the e-waste recycling site Agbogbloshie. E-waste workers suffered significantly more from work-related injuries, back pain, and red itchy eyes in comparison to the control group. In addition, regular drug use was more common in e-waste workers (25% vs. 6.4%). Both groups showed a noticeable high use of pain killers (all workers 79%). The higher frequency of symptoms in the e-waste group can be explained by the specific recycling tasks, such as burning or dismantling. However, the report also indicates that adverse health effects apply frequently to the control group. Occupational safety trainings and the provision of personal protection equipment are needed for all workers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How Much Is Too Much? The Influence of Work Hours on Social Development: An Empirical Analysis for OECD Countries
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 4914; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244914 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Work is a cornerstone of social development. Quantifying the impact on development of fluctuations in work hours is important because longer work hours increasingly seem to be the norm. Based on an integrative perspective that combines individual, organizational, and social factors, we constructed [...] Read more.
Work is a cornerstone of social development. Quantifying the impact on development of fluctuations in work hours is important because longer work hours increasingly seem to be the norm. Based on an integrative perspective that combines individual, organizational, and social factors, we constructed a model using data from 31 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The proposed model was used to test the effect of work hours on different levels and to propose feasible suggestions accordingly. The results show that people in developing countries work more hours per week than those in developed countries, and that males work longer hours than females. Furthermore, regression analysis shows that current work hours are having a negative impact on development in OECD countries, especially in developing countries where people are working longer hours. Longer hours, in other words, do not promote development effectively. Specifically, work hours at the individual level are negatively related to health. At the level of organization, work hours are a reverse indicator of organizational performance, and at the level of society, there is a negative relationship between work hours and economic development. This study provides support for the proposition by the International Labour Organization to reduce work hours, and it facilitates our understanding of the relationship between work hours and social development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Building a Sustainable Construction Workforce
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(21), 4202; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214202 - 30 Oct 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The average U.S. construction worker is aged 42.6 years, and will not be eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits until age 67. Delayed retirement is largely driven by economic need, but construction workers face considerable challenges in remaining on the job. This [...] Read more.
The average U.S. construction worker is aged 42.6 years, and will not be eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits until age 67. Delayed retirement is largely driven by economic need, but construction workers face considerable challenges in remaining on the job. This study explores trade-specific age trends within the construction industry, and the experiences of building trade unions with aging membership. A mixed-methods approach used trade-specific age statistics from the Current Population Survey and key informant interviews with labor leaders, in order to identify union experiences and interventions. Mean and median ages for all subgroups in construction increased from 2003 to 2017. Immigrant construction workers were significantly younger than workers who were born in the U.S. (41 vs. 43, p < 0.001). Union workers were older than non-union workers (42 vs. 39 in 2017, p < 0.001); the age differential between self-employed and wage-and-salary workers was wide (49 vs. 40, p < 0.001). Union leaders described barriers, such as age discrimination and the loss of previously available light tasks, as well as current and potential solutions through union contract language requiring the inclusion of older workers, or establishing limits for lifting. Other solutions included career pathways for training and safety, with their attendant limitations; mentoring/pairing opportunities with apprentices; and the potential opportunities and training needs for site management positions. Full article
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