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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd

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News Archive

February 2008

Workplace bullying rife: rising stress levels hit the health of the UK nation

As in many other countries Bullying in the UK is endemic and for one in four people it is a weekly or even daily cause of stress. Over 80% of workers have been bullied during their careers and a third of people are so stressed they have dreamed of quitting for a life abroad. Over half say their jobs are getting more stressful and that work is overtaking their home lives.

These are the key findings of Samaritans' survey for Stress Down Day, that took place on Friday 1 February 2008; a national campaign to encourage people to take better care of their health at work and reduce currently damaging stress levels.

Samaritans Joe Ferns said: "Job related stress has a serious and unrecognised impact on the health of the nation and the economy, affecting concentration and efficiency. Thirteen million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2005 at a staggering cost of 3.7 billion to UK plc.

"Positive workplaces are a big factor in keeping everyone emotionally healthy. There is not enough openness and that is what Stress Down Day is all about; encouraging employers and employees to speak out and discuss problems before they escalate."

Young employees (18-24 years) are most vulnerable to stress, with 38% feeling less likely than all other age groups to talk openly to their managers and 57% unable to talk to colleagues. Forty-eight percent are more likely to be bullied by clients and customers whereas over half of other age groups reported being bullied by their managers.

Occupation has a major influence on stress, with over 40% of IT workers, retailers, caterers and engineers feeling unsupported at work and over half unable to deal with stress, compared with people in health, education, banking and finance over half of whom claim they receive adequate support at work.

Samaritans Stressed Out survey also shows that:

  1. 49% of people are worried about the affect stress is having on their health, compared with 44% of people last year
  2. 32% of workers feel their employers turn a blind eye to the problem of stress and 43% feel their bosses try to get as much out of them as possible, regardless of their stress levels
  3. Over half have seen colleagues cry over pressure and 83% would rather say they were sick with flu or another problem rather than admit they were stressed
  4. There is still a large gender imbalance when it comes to sharing domestic stress; with three quarters of women in the UK taking sole responsibility for domestic tasks

Professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University, an internationally recognised expert in the field of workplace stress, said: "These results really disturb me. Shouldn't we be managing people by reward and praise rather than by fault finding and bullying?

"We know that dealing with difficult people issues can be lonely and frustrating. The message from Samaritans is that you are not alone. Employees need more support from work colleagues and line managers and everyone needs coping skills to help them deal with everyday pressures."

1st Call for Extended Abstracts for CybErg 2008: Fifth International Cyberspace Conference on Ergonomics (CybErg'08) Local Knowledge, Global Applications

The Fifth International Cyberspace Conference on Ergonomics (CybErg'08) will be held between 15 September and 15 October 2008. CybErg'08 is the fifth conference in its series, and covers issues on the all aspects of ergonomics, and highlights the latest development and current technologies in those areas. The theme of this upcoming CybErg'08 is 'Local knowledge, Global Applications' aims to deliberate and discuss ergonomic issues such as those applied in developing economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

However, one of the deterrents to greater participation from countries with developing economies has been the high international travel costs. As CybErg'08 is an online conference, it is easy to see how an international conference based on the World Wide Web can drastically reduce travel-related costs. In addition, with greater participation from the under-represented communities, it is anticipated that issues normally not discussed at major conferences would be covered. In addition, participation and response received from the industries and organisations since the first CybErg in 1996 have been very encouraging.

Last but not least, given the conference is on-going for a month, there is ample opportunity to discuss issues which may not normally get air-timegiven the limited amount of period available to conduct a lengthy discussion. With 'bulletin boards' available, participants will have an opportunity to discuss with the authors and other attendees with similar interests.

Submit an extended abstract to CybErg'08 (deadline 29 Feb 2008). Please note that awards for best paper and most active discussion groups, will be also be presented at this conference.

Dr Alvin W. Yeo
Fifth International Cyberspace Conference On Ergonomics 2008 (CybErg '08)

Alvin W. Yeo (Assoc Professor Dr.), Deputy Dean (Postgraduate and Research), Faculty of Computer Science and, Information Technology, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), 94300 Kota Samarahan, Sarawak MALAYSIA | Email: | Tel: + 6082-583 765/583784 | Fax: + 6082-583 764


Prof Andrew Thatcher, Associate Professor, Discipline of Psychology, School of Human & Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, WITS, South Africa | Email: | Tel: +27 11 717 4533

Third ICOH International Conference on Psychosocial Factors at Work, 1-4 September 2008

Hotel LOEWS Le Concorde, Quebec City, Canada

For those who have an interest in psychosocial factors at work, or who have never been to Quebec City, Canada, and would like the opportunity to go there for an occupational medical meeting, there will be an ICOH conference on this topic coming this fall. Information is provided below.

The languages for the conference will be English and French. Topics:

Please consider becoming a member of the International Commission on Occupational Health. ICOH is an international not for profit, non-political, multidisciplinary scientific organization whose purpose is to foster scientific progress, knowledge and development of occupational health and related subjects on an international basis.

See the ICOH website at or contact directly for membership information. Bob Orford, MD, ICOH National Secretary for USA | Email:

Conference organized by: Prof Renée Bourbonnais and Prof Michel Vézina from Laval University and Québec Public Health Institute

Supported by: International Commission on Occupational Health, Work Organization and Psychosocial Factors Institut de Recherche Robert-Sauvé en Santé et en Sécurité du Travail, Ministère de la Santé et des Services Sociaux du Québec

EUROSHNET: the 3rd European Conference on Standardization, Testing and Certification - Safer Products for Competitive Workplaces, Cracow, Poland, 11-12 September 2008

Details of the conference and further information:

Occupational Health and Safety Research in Action: Method, Results and Applications

This bilingual conference, "Occupational Health and Safety Research in Action: Method, Results and Applications", jointly organised by the Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health (CARWH) and the Réseau de recherche en santé et en sécurité du travail du Québec (RRSSTQ), will take place in Montreal at the École de Technologie Supérieure June 15-17 2008.

Conference Coordinator at email:

Susan Stock MD MSc FRCPC, Institut national de santé publique du Québec, 190 rue Crémazie est, Montréal (Québec) H2P 1E2, Canada | Tel: +1 514-864-1600 ext. 3206 | Fax: +1 514-864-7646 | Email:

European Risk Observatory: Many of Europe's migrant workers face poor safety and health conditions

In a new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), the European Risk Observatory (ERO) provides an overview of the most important issues relating to the occupational safety and health (OSH) of migrant workers. Migration can bring career opportunities that can enhance workers' general well-being, but it can also involve a degree of deskilling and downward social mobility which can be associated with potential health and safety problems.

"Migrant workers are often over-represented in high-risk sectors and in the so-called 3D jobs - dirty, dangerous and demanding", says Jukka Takala, Director of EU-OSHA, of which ERO is an integral part.

"Their work is often characterised by uncertainty, poor working conditions and low wages. This is a serious concern all over Europe." The ERO literature survey provides an overview of migration in the EU and outlines the most significant OSH issues affecting migrant workers.

Labour market segregation

Existing evidence suggests a concentration of migrant workers in certain sectors and occupations: on the one hand, they work in high skill professions such as IT, on the other hand, many face poorer working conditions in sectors such as agriculture and horticulture, construction, health care, households, transport and the food sector.

The significant presence of migrant workers in these sectors may be explained not only by labour shortages but also by language and legal barriers along with more subtle forms of discrimination. And their presence is likely to be even higher as official statistics refer only to legal permanent migration and not temporary or undeclared workers, which may be particularly relevant in agriculture.

One direct consequence of the labour market segregation is the over-qualification of many migrant workers due to their employment in low-skill occupations.

The impact of working conditions on migrants' health and safety

Labour market segmentation can have negative consequences in terms of lower wages, longer working hours, higher occupational instability, more physically demanding and monotonous work and more risks of accidents at work.

Migrant workers face additional health and safety risks due to their relatively short period of work in the host countries and their limited knowledge of the health and safety systems in place. They also report being subject to harassment more frequently than their native counterparts. Coupled with more unfavourable working conditions, higher rates of stress and burnout are one visible consequence.

Undeclared work

It is estimated that in the nine largest economies of the former EU15 between 4.4 and 5.5 million immigrants are working in the "informal economy", although precise data about undeclared employment is still not available. There are serious health concerns for undeclared workers as they often do not have access to occupational health care services and lack the legal protection mechanisms for employees in dangerous occupations. The few studies carried out on safety and health of undeclared workers suggest that they are under-reported in statistics and that they are likely to endure very poor working conditions.

An ongoing concern

Safety and health of migrant workers is an ongoing concern in the EU. Therefore, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work will continue to monitor the state of knowledge on the topic and promote the exchange of existing good practice information through its website.

Further reading

Download the 'Literature Study on Migrant Workers' free of charge available in English:

Agency website on Migrant Workers

European Risk Observatory:

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work:

European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Gran Vía 33, E-48009 Bilbao - Spain | Tel: + 34 94 479 4360 | Fax: + 34 94 479 4383 |

EU 2020 climate target: 20% reduction requires five-fold increase in impact of CO2 policies

MNP has estimated that without environmental policies in the EU between 1990 and 2005, emissions of the six greenhouse gases under the Kyoto Protocol would have been approximately 7 % higher in 2005 than they were in reality. Achieving the 2020 EU climate target will require the EU policy impact on CO2 emissions to increase by a factor of almost five.

This study evaluated and quantified the impact of environmental policies on the emissions of the six Kyoto greenhouse gases in the EU-27 between 1990 en 2005. Next this quantification was compared with the required policy impact increase halfway through the 1990-2020 period in order to reach the new 2020 targets.

This study reveals two policy-relevant indicators for the EU. Firstly, environmental policies had a 7 % impact on emission trends between 1990 and 2005. Secondly, to meet the EU's 2020 climate target, this impact must increase by a factor between three (all greenhouse gases) to almost five (CO2) in the 2005-2020 period.

This required increase in policy impact is by no means evident from the 1990-2005 monitoring data and the 2005-2020 linear-pathway-to-target line. By explicitly filtering out the effect of environmental policies better insight is acquired into the true challenges for the EU's climate policies.

Policy package

The long-awaited legislation package for energy and climate in Europe will be presented early 2008. The package will contain important requirements to attain EU's 2020 climate goal: a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 compared tot 1990.


The uncertainty analysis illustrates that the ex-post quantitative policy evaluations, as applied here, may require additional in-depth research, documentation and methodological consensus before a stronger role for this type of analysis in the policy cycle can be achieved. This paper can be a starting point for such additional work. Despite the uncertainties, the main results from this study can serve as a strong signal to policy makers that the impact of EU CO2 policies must increase by a factor of almost five in order to achieve the EU's 2020 climate policy target.

Anneke Oosterhuis, Milieu- en Natuurplanbureau, Senior Communicatieadviseur/persvoorlichter | Tel: + 31 (0)30 274 3033 | Fax: + 31 (0)30 274 4479 | Email: |

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, P.O. Box 303, 3720 AH Bilthoven, The Netherlands

The 4th International Conference "Prevention of Occupational Accident in a Changing Work Environment" that will be held 30 September - 3 October 2008 in Crete, Greece

Following previous communication regarding the 4th International Conference "Prevention of Occupational Accident in a Changing Work Environment" that will be held 30 September - 3 October 2008 in Crete, Greece, (CRETA MARIS Hotel and Conference Centre), the organisers would like to remind you that the deadline for abstract submissions is the 29 February 2008.

Thus, you still have time to submit an abstract electronically, through the conference website

Planning for Pandemic Key to Minimizing Impact

To help companies understand the risks and protect their staff and operations, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has launched two e-courses on pandemic influenza. Pandemic Awareness and Pandemic Planning offer practical, step-by-step information to help workplaces plan and prepare for the impact of such a crisis.

Pandemic Awareness is a free, 20-minute introductory course that describes what a pandemic is, how an influenza virus spreads, and the impact a pandemic may have on workplaces, families and communities. This e-course also outlines the importance of preparing for a pandemic. It describes what could happen, and what people should expect. Most importantly, the course describes how people and companies can proactively try to avert a crisis by staying as influenza-free as possible.

Pandemic Planning expands on information in the Awareness course by providing more details on how workplaces can plan for a pandemic, the employee absences it would cause, and why it's important to prepare. In addition, it explains how to take action on both an individual and organization level. The course outlines how having a business continuity plan will reduce the impact of a pandemic on both the employees and organization. The course also describes ways to slow the spread of influenza.

Course participants will learn tips on how to prepare for a flu pandemic at work, at home and in the community, and where to find further information. Everyone in the workplace including managers and supervisors can benefit from these e-courses.

As with all CCOHS e-courses, participants can contact CCOHS subject specialists to ask specific questions that may arise. There are quizzes throughout and a certificate of completion is issued upon passing the exam for the Pandemic Planning course. CCOHS courses are unique in that they are developed by experts in the field, and reviewed by representatives from labour, employers and government to ensure the content and approach are unbiased and credible. Courses are available in English and French.

Pricing and registration information is available on the CCOHS website:

Contact: Eleanor Westwood, Manager of Communications, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety | Tel: (905) 572-2981, Ext. 4408 | Email: |

ISO publishes international benchmark for operational continuity management

ISO has published the first internationally ratified benchmark document addressing incident preparedness and continuity management for organizations in both public and private sectors. The Publicly Available Specification ISO/PAS 22399:2007, Societal security - Guideline for incident preparedness and operational continuity management, is based on best practice from five national standards from Australia, Israel, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Natural disasters, acts of terror, technology-related accidents and environmental incidents have clearly demonstrated that neither public nor private sectors are immune from crises, either intentionally or unintentionally provoked. This has lead to a global awareness that organizations in the public and private sectors must know how to prepare for and respond to unexpected and potentially devastating incidents.

ISO/PAS 22399 is the first deliverable from ISO technical committee ISO/TC 223, Societal security, which is charged with developing standards in the area of crisis and continuity management.

Launching the Foundation's Annual work programme for 2008

2008 marks the fourth and final year in Eurofound's current four-year work programme, 2005-2008. The focus of the 2008 work programme is to complete the research and communication activities started over the past three years. During the course of the year, the Foundation will focus on four communication campaigns, disseminating timely and relevant research findings, analysis and recommendations to EU social policy-makers and the informed general public on ageing, globalisation, migration and flexicurity.

During 2008, work at Eurofound will centre on the analysis and publication of the findings from the second European Quality of Life Survey, carried out in 2007, and on carrying out fieldwork for the second European Establishment Survey.

Another goal for 2008 will be to enhance Eurofound's collaboration with other organisations. Over the course of 2007, Eurofound cooperated on a number of successful projects with its sister EU agencies and other European bodies. Together with CEDEFOP, it co-published a report on mobility and skills development, while it signed a cooperation agreement with the European Training Foundation. At the end of the year, in conjunction with the Council of Europe (CoE), it produced the first report of its CLIP network, a joint project aimed at supporting the integration of migrants in European cities. In 2008, Eurofound intends to forge links with other EU agencies, including the new European Institute for Gender Equality, and will cooperate with the European Commission on a programme of sectoral research.

To find out more, download the work programme from the website of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, Press Officer, Eurofound | telephone +353-1-204 3124 | mobile +353-876-593 507 | email

New mentoring package to help RoSPA's diploma students

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has launched a free mentoring package to support health and safety professionals working towards the prestigious NEBOSH National Diploma (Level 6).

One-to-one telephone and email support on any issue related to the course is available for the duration of a delegate's study period with the safety charity.

RoSPA's tutors have experience writing or marking NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) examination papers, making them well-placed to give expert support to an individual's studies. They can also offer advice on safety issues affecting a delegate's workplace, as well as wider developments within accident and ill-health prevention.

The mentoring package includes the opportunity to complete mock exams, which the tutor will mark and provide feedback on, and subscriptions to RoSPA's award-winning Occupational Safety and Health Journal and the bi-monthly Safety Express newspaper.

Delegates benefit from unlimited access to RoSPA's Information Centre, which is home to an unmatched collection of safety-related documents and provides an extensive enquiry service.

An online forum for students to discuss key topics has also been created and is being developed further.

Established in 1988, the NEBOSH National Diploma is the most widely recognised academic health and safety qualification in the UK and the benchmark against which other qualifications are compared. Students learn to identify and assess risk factors, to introduce and manage necessary control measures and to operate in line with current legislation and HSE guidance, which is proactive and goal-setting, rather than rule following.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA Deputy Chief Executive, said: "As one of the earliest providers of the NEBOSH National Diploma, we are extremely proud to offer this highly-regarded qualification. We have responded to its recent accreditation at Level 6 within the National Qualification Framework by raising the bar in course delivery.

"We hope our new mentoring package will be second to none for busy health and safety professionals working towards this prestigious qualification."

RoSPA House, Edgbaston Park, 353 Bristol Road, Birmingham B5 7ST, United Kingdom | Email: | Tel: +44 (0) 121 248 2233

Diverse approaches to older workers across Europe

Few companies are actively responding to demographic change, despite the fact that the ageing labour force debate has increasingly moved up the European policy agenda. This is according to research from Eurofound, the EU agency based in Dublin, Ireland. Although age management policies in companies have become more common, there is a wide diversity of approaches and developing and implementing good practice tends to be triggered by the direct business needs of companies, rather than by pressure from public policy or age-awareness campaigns.

For example, flexible working practices are key to age management strategies in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, while the Nordic countries tend to focus on improving employees' health and well-being. Companies in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy and Spain, for their part, focus more on training and development.

'Organisations are more likely to be successful when they clearly communicate the purpose of their age management strategy and establish a comprehensive policy framework that involves all parties,' says Robert Anderson, Head of Unit of Eurofound's 'Living Conditions and Quality of Life' research team. 'Managers often identify value for money and its impact, but in fact there are few systematic evaluations of company initiatives.'

The demographic challenges facing Europe intensify the need for debate on the employment and working conditions of workers as they age. Working conditions tend to vary considerably across age groups: the effect of age on physical abilities is neither uniform nor systematic. In studies that have examined the relationship between work performance and age, no clear-cut association has been found and the results vary considerably. However, it is clear that if workers are to remain in employment for longer, working conditions need to be improved - a strategy that, apart from contributing to increasing the employment rates of older people, will benefit workers of all ages. Measures taken at company level to address this issue often combine an ergonomic review of the job, an evaluation of individual abilities and an assessment of the demands of a job, with a view to eliminating tasks that cannot be carried out by workers with reduced physical capacity. Other approaches include physical training, medical monitoring and promotion of healthy, active lifestyles.

During the course of 2008, Eurofound will highlight its work on active ageing and flexible solutions in the workplace. Arguing that older workers are key to sustainable development in the EU, Eurofound contends that companies will increasingly have to rely on the experience and skills of older workers. Eurofound has an extensive range of reports and databases that support the policy and practice of active ageing policies. These include maintaining and promoting health and work ability as employees age, developing skills and continued employability of older workers, and offering suitable working conditions and employment opportunities.

The Foundation's work on ageing is available online at

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, Press Officer, on telephone +353-1-204 3124, mobile +353-876-593 507, or email

New European report highlights emerging psychosocial risks in the workplace

Working environments are changing significantly with the introduction of new technologies, materials and work processes. Changes in work design, organisation and management can produce new risk areas resulting in increased stress levels and may finally lead to a serious deterioration of mental and physical health. A new report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work shows that the main psychosocial risks are related to new forms of employment contracts, job insecurity, work intensification, high emotional demands, violence at work and a poor work-life balance.

Jukka Takala, Director of The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) states: "Working life in Europe is changing at an ever-increasing speed. Job insecurity, multiple jobs or high work intensity can all lead to work-related stress and put workers' health in danger. Constant monitoring and improving of psychosocial work environments are necessary to create quality jobs and retain workers in good condition."

Work-related stress is one of the biggest occupational safety and health (OSH) challenges faced in Europe and the number of people suffering from stress-related conditions caused or made worse by work is likely to increase.

In the UK, the 2007 Psychosocial Working Conditions (PWC) survey by the Health and Safety indicated that around 13.6% of all working individuals thought their job was very or extremely stressful.

Emerging psychosocial risks have been explored in an expert forecast and are presented in this new report, the third in a series on new and emerging risks issued by the European Risk Observatory (ERO), an integral part of EU-OSHA.

Precarious work puts workers' health at risk

Precarious work is generally defined as low income and low quality employment with little opportunity for training and career progression. People on precarious contracts tend to carry out the most hazardous jobs, work in poorer conditions and receive less OSH safety training. Working under unstable working conditions can give rise to job insecurity which significantly increases work-related stress.

Work intensification leads to health problems

Strict deadlines and fast changing work environments make a growing number of EU workers experience high workload and pressure. Reduction in workplaces, increasing amount of information to handle at work as a result of new communication technologies and more demands shared between fewer workers can also lead to greater work-related stress.

Violence or bullying jeopardise workers

The problem of violence and bullying in workplaces is of growing concern. Although it affects all types of occupations and activity sectors, prevalence is high in the healthcare and service sectors. Deterioration of self-esteem, anxiety, depression and even suicide can be the consequence.

Poor work-life balance affects families

High workloads and inflexible working hours make it more difficult to achieve a decent work-life balance, particularly for women, who often still face a "double shift": first at work, then at home. This can lead to stress and other negative effects on people's health, especially when there is no possibility for the employees to adjust the working conditions to their personal needs. Over 40% of employees from the EU27 who worked long hours reported being dissatisfied with the balance between work and family life.

EU-OSHA is planning a large scale forecasting study to monitor workplace and societal changes that lead to emerging OSH risks. In 2009, EU-OSHA plans to launch a survey of enterprises in all 27 EU Member States to learn how organisations in both the public and private sectors deal with psychosocial risks, and how enterprises can be assisted to manage these complex workplace hazards more effectively.

Further reading - Download the reports on emerging risks free of charge:

European Risk Observatory:

SPRINKLER '08 - Call for papers

BAFSA - the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association has announced a Call for Papers for its 2008 Conference and Exhibition which will take place on 20 November 2008.

In 2008 BAFSA will be organising a major conference and exhibition which will focus on the benefits and uses of sprinklers in the protection of people, property and the environment.

The event will take place at the five star Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport, South Wales on 20 November 2008 and will provide a unique forum for all groups with an interest in water-based automatic fire suppression systems to come together and learn about new developments in sprinkler technology, new uses of sprinklers and changes in standards and certification.

BAFSA would now like to invite the submission of prospective presentations particularly those relating to the following:

Proposals should be submitted by 15 February 2008 in accordance with the notes below. Speakers will be provided with a small honorarium and a complimentary conference package.

Please direct any enquiries to Stewart Kidd, Tel: +44 (0) 1353-741099

Please provide an abstract of not more than 100 words together with details of the proposed speaker/s, their affiliation and any other details which may be helpful.

Submissions to be sent to no later than 15 February 2008.

Speakers will be provided with a small honorarium, a complimentary conference ticket and hospitality.

British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association Ltd., Richmond House, Broad Street, Ely CB7 4AH, UK |

Germany's Healthy Skin Campaign: the wrong creams can be harmful

Skin care is an area for which the motto "the more, the better" does not necessarily hold true. On the contrary: people with sensitive skin may do lasting damage to it by using certain skin creams excessively. The experts of the Healthy Skin Campaign run by the German health and accident insurance institutions draw attention to this fact.

The products, which frequently contain preservatives and odorants, may cause stubborn papules and reddening, primarily around the mouth but also over the rest of the face. This is particularly likely when a facial cream is used which is unsuitable for the skin type in question. A narrow area around the lips is generally unaffected. The skin swells somewhat, reddens and burns.

The sufferers: women in high-visibility professions

Perioral dermatitis is also known in Germany as the "stewardess's disease", since it primarily affects young women in high-visibility occupations. Sufferers are aged between 20 and 50 and have a well-groomed appearance. Female sales, trade fair or service personnel are affected, as well as stewardesses; the disease is in no way exclusive to a particular profession. Anyone who persistently treats their skin with different creams and cosmetic products when not at work is equally likely to be affected.

Causes and tips for treatment

"Perioral dermatitis probably occurs when the skin's normal microflora - 'domestic bacteria', one might say - are disturbed, creating an environment in which pathogenic microorganisms are able to multiply," say Professor Nana Schürer and Professor Swen Malte John, dermatologists in Osnabrück. Inappropriate skin-care measures lead to an imbalance between the metabolism of the skin and that of the "domestic bacteria". The skin frequently regains its condition as soon as this equilibrium is restored, say the skin experts. Their recommendation is therefore: good advice on skin care is important!

Attention should also be paid to the pH values of cosmetics. The skin's surface has a pH of approximately 5 (slightly acidic); a care product with a corresponding value should therefore be selected. It is particularly important that as soon as the first signs of a skin reaction are observed, the cream is no longer used and is replaced by products with an optimized pH value and ideally free of any irritating substances.

If the skin disease has reached a more advanced stage, certain skin creams with an antimicrobial action (such as the active agents erythromycin or metronidazole) are suitable for treatment. "Cortisone" is however unsuitable for this purpose, says John. It results in the disease being suppressed briefly, only to return with a vengeance, since the active agent is unable to restore the disturbed equilibrium of the facial skin.

The Healthy Skin Campaign

The Healthy Skin Campaign is being run jointly by the German statutory health and accident insurance institutions. Altogether, some 120 health and accident insurance institutions are campaigning under the motto: "Your skin. The most important 2m² in your life", with the aim of protecting the largest organ in the human body. The goal of the campaign is: "Healthy skin - fewer cases of skin disease."

For further information on the Healthy Skin Campaign, visit

ILO World Congress, Korea 2008

World Congress on Safety and Health at Work and The annual general meeting of the Asia Pacific Occupational Safety and Health Organization (APOSHO), a cooperative organization of safety and health institutions in the Asia-Pacific region, will be held simultaneously in Seoul, Korea this year.

The Ministry of Labour (MOL) and KOSHA said on 5 June that the 24th annual general meeting of APOSHO will be held for 4 days beginning 29 June 2008 in Seoul.