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News Archive

January 2003

As the result of an investigation that teamed researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) with management and employees at a label printing plant, two chemicals in a widely used category of compounds were associated for the first time with a risk for job-related visual disturbances. The findings led to practical recommendations for reducing exposures to the chemicals – DMIPA and DMAE – and protecting employees' vision.

NIOSH, a part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), describes the study in a technical article in the January 2003 issue of the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine. See also details on www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/teramines.html.

"Employers and employees frequently turn to NIOSH for help in solving complex health and safety concerns," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "As in this case, finding the answer often involves a combination of technical expertise, practical experience on the shop floor, vigorous scientific sleuthing, and close collaboration with our partners."

The company requested NIOSH's assistance when several employees in the printing production area reported intermittent blurred vision. Although the employees' vision typically improved within several hours after leaving work, the blurring posed a safety hazard while the workers were on the job operating machinery, and while they were driving home. The condition occurred intermittently and unpredictably, and was beginning to happen more frequently. One employee had been examined by an ophthalmologist who found a "film over his eyes."

NIOSH's subsequent investigation determined that the condition was linked with exposure to dimethylisopropanolamine, or DMIPA, a component of an additive used to thin ink. NIOSH also found an association with dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE, a component of water-based inks. Both compounds are tertiary amines, a type of chemical widely found in solvents, chemical intermediates, catalysts, preservatives, drugs, and herbicides. The number of employees reporting blurred vision, the number with film or opacities on the cornea, and the severity of the opacity increased with corresponding exposure to the compounds. Neither compound previously had been reported to cause visual disturbances in humans.

With the participation of management and employees, NIOSH identified the association through intensive legwork on several fronts – measuring exposure levels, assessing the plant ventilation system, administering eye examinations and questionnaires, and using rigorous statistical analysis to assess the likelihood that a given exposure was associated with symptoms of visual change.

In addition to publishing the results in OEM, NIOSH has shared them directly with industry groups and others, so that the information can be used for material safety data sheet (MSDS) updating, and can be disseminated more widely to manufacturers, employers, and employees. In the last available national data collected by NIOSH in the 1980s, 35,000 workers were estimated to be exposed to DMAE, and 20,000 were estimated to be exposed to DMIPA. It is likely that the number of workers currently exposed is much higher, because solvent-based inks increasingly have been replaced in the past 20 years by water-based inks containing amines.

For further information on NIOSH research and recommendations for preventing work-related illnesses and injuries, call toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH or visit NIOSH on the Web at www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html.

Health and Safety CD-ROM

Fully approved by the UK Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), Health and Safety at Work is a complete do-it-yourself course. It provides the participant with the information and techniques needed to ensure that every task they perform in the workplace conforms to the safest standards. Whether it is lifting, handling common hazardous substances or learning about stress or repetitive strain injuries, this learning CD covers all the basics.

It contains 8 modules - fire, display screen equipment, hazardous substances, security, office safety, lifting and carrying, other risk and driving and is based on a combination of:

Health and Safety at Work is produced by the BBC Learning and is available for single and multiple use from:

BBC Worldwide Learning, BBC Worldwide, Woodlands, 80 Wood Lane, London W12 0TT | Tel: +44 (0)20 8433 1641 | Fax: +44 (0) 20 8433 2916 | Email: corporate.sales@bbc.co.uk

Office Gremlins: Are you sitting uncomfortably?

The Fire Protection Association has recently issued a new video Office Gremlins which looks at the safe use of display screen equipment. This video teaches workers how to avoid discomfort and pain by adjusting their workstations correctly and understanding the importance of:

The video runs for 18 minutes and is available from The Fire Protection Association, Bastille Court, 2 Paris Garden, London SE1 8ND, UK | Tel: +44 (0)20 7902 5300 | Fax: +44 (0)2 7902 5301 | www.thefpa.co.uk

African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety

The latest edition - December 2002 looks at work-related diseases and their prevention. There are a number of interesting articles including:

African Newsletter on Occupational Health and Safety is published by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, 41aA Topeliuksenkatu, FIN 00250 Helsinki, Finland. It is available also on www.ttl.fi/en/publications/electronic_journals/african_newsletter

The life of women and men in Europe

Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities in Luxembourg, and the Directorate General of the European Commission for Employment and Social Affairs launch today a new publication on "The life of women and men in Europe"1. This publication gives a portrait of the various stages of life: youth, adulthood and retirement, presenting statistics on the differences and similarities of women and men in the European Union.. Data, whenever possible, are also provided for the Candidate Countries.

1. Eurostat, The Life of women and men in Europe, A statistical portrait, 197 pages,
ISBN 92-894-3569-2, EUR 30 (excluding VAT). The paper versions in German and French will become available shortly. The pdf versions are already available in all three languages.

2. Please also note the following publication:
Eurostat, Statistics in Focus, Population and social conditions No 21/2002, "Women and men beyond retirement"

For further information contact: Karin WINQVIST | Tel: +352-4301-35591 | Fax: +352-4301-33649 | http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat

2003 - Dangerous Substances theme for European Week of Health and Safety

The themes for European Week of Health and Safety for the 2003 - 2006. The week is run by the tripartite European Agency for Safety and Health based in Bilbao.

2003 - Dangerous substances

The Agency will be putting the emphasis on solvents, but HSE also wants to cover asthmagens and asbestos, and give a focus to COSHH Essentials. The TUC has already begun planning, and like the HSE, we will also be stressing the hierarchy of control and the need to consider substitution and toxic use reduction.

2004 - Construction

The aim of the campaign is to focus on construction as an activity, rather than simply as a sector (although there will be a special focus on the serious risks to the safety and health of workers in the Construction Sector). It will therefore cover the maintenance and repair activities which are carried out in all workplaces, and the risks such as asbestos exposure that go along with that. Also, during 2003 and 2004 the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee is expected to run an inspection campaign on Construction across the EU.

Future years’ themes have been agreed provisionally, but are not confirmed because they will depend on the views of the new member states of the European Union who join in 2004, which may lead to changes.

2005 - Noise at work

The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the risks to the safety and health of workers exposed to noise at work and to promote preventive actions. The European Week will at the same time support the implementation of the new directive on noise.

2006 - Young workers

According to European statistics young workers suffer from a 40% higher than average accident rate. The Agency aims to raise awareness of the safety and health risks young workers face and of the actions necessary to reduce them. The European Week 2006 is intended to form a natural continuation of the Agency’s activities in the field of promoting a preventive safety and health culture, especially the issue of mainstreaming Occupational Safety and Health into education.

Environment, health and safety software acquisition

AEA Technology strengthens Environment Business with Acquisition of Environmental, Health & Safety Software Company

AEA Technology today announces the purchase of Lexware International Ltd, a leading supplier of environmental, health and safety software. The acquisition will make AEA Technology Environment the leader in the fast growing market for IT-based management of environment, health & safety issues.

The acquisition is part of AEA Technology's strategy to focus on markets where the demand for advice and technology is strong, growing and highly valued. Commenting on the announcement, AEA Technology's Chairman Peter Watson said:

"The acquisition of Lexware International will strengthen our presence in a fast growing area of the environment market that we know well. This acquisition is consistent with our strategy to seek bolt-on acquisitions for our core businesses. It is a good fit with complementary technical expertise and market access and will be a valuable addition to our Environment portfolio."

Lexware International is based in East Kilbride and has a staff of 30 covering software development, project management and marketing & sales. Its SHE2000 range of software provides an unrivalled breadth of modules for managing health and safety issues covering risk assessment, incident reporting and auditing. SHE2000 complements AEA Technology's current software for environmental management and emergency response. In addition, Lexware's strength in the construction and services sectors complements AEA Technology's strength in oil & gas, chemicals and waste management.

Contact: AEA Technology plc, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 OQJ, UK | Tel: +44 (0)1235 821111 | Fax: +44 (0)1235 432916 | Email: enquiry@aeat.co.uk

California's Immigrant Workers Speak up About Health and Safety in the Workplace

The University of California Los Angeles UCLA-Labor Occupational Safety and Health (LOSH) Program is a nationally recognized center in Southern California for worker health and safety training, educational materials development, technical assistance and policy information in the area of workplace health and safety. With a multi-ethnic, bilingual (English and Spanish) staff, including industrial hygienists, health educators and clerical support, the UCLA-LOSH Program trains about 2000 workers annually. It is part of the UCLA Labor Center, and is also affiliated with the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health in the UCLA School of Public Health.

The UCLA-LOSH Program conducted an ethnographic in-depth study of 75 immigrant workers in six industries in Southern California between January and October 2001. The industries chosen were: day labor, domestic work, garment work, homecare, hotel and restaurant work. Most of those interviewed about 90 percent worried that they would get injured on the job. The majority said they had experienced work-related injuries or illnesses, but only two thirds had reported these to their employers. Those who did not report gave a variety of reasons for not doing so, not the least of which was concern that their employer would retaliate against them.

"California's Immigrant Workers Speak up About Health and Safety in the Workplace" www.losh.ucla.edu

Contact UCLA-LOSH: John A. Mathews UCLA-Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program | Tel: +1 (310) 794-5964 | Fax: +1 (310) 794-6403 | mathewsj@ucla.edu
Mailing Address: UCLA Labor Occupational Safety & Health Program, Hershey Hall, P.O. Box 951478, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1478, USA.

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