According to Encyclopedia of public Health, the term “occupational disease or illness” refers to those illnesses caused by exposures at the workplace. This is a sickness usually associated with a particular job.
Today lot of countries in the world is facing an occupational disease epidemic. Research shows that occupational ill health has become Britain’s biggest, most easily prevented, public health disaster.
Dr Joe LaDou, Editor of the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, has warned: “Never in history has there been as much occupational disease as exists in the world today”. Dr LaDou concludes occupational illnesses and injuries are among the five leading causes of sickness and death in the United States.
Even though not all occupational exposures that cause illness lead to death; but deaths from occupational illnesses for most diseases are hard to spell out. And it is relatively easy to count deaths due to occupational injuries, but it is not easy for delayed illnesses.
Among the occupational diseases commonly reported are carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), tendonitis, back-ache, eye related problems, fatigue and noise–induced hearing loss. ‘CTS’ means soreness, tenderness, and weakness of the muscles of the thumb caused by pressure on the median nerve at the point at which it goes the carpel tunnel of the wrist. Skin diseases like dermatitis or inflammation of the skin, and computer related problems are also significant.
According to researchers, it has been found that approximately half the UK working population attributes damaged eyesight to use of a computer at work. A study carried out by Tickbox found that a lot of workers due to over-exposure to computer screens now wear glasses or contact lenses. Additional eye problems like blurred vision and dry eyes had been also reported by computer users. Those can be aggravated by poor lighting, inappropriately designed workstation and viewing the screen up too close.
Stress, depression and electromagnetic radiation hazards are the other problems harmful for health. According to scientists, computer users should stay away from the back of monitors, where the electromagnetic field was stronger and against which walls did not give any protection. From offices to industry, widespread mechanisation has changed the way people do their jobs.
Seated employees are experiencing back pain and muscle tenderness. There are also reports of varicose veins, stiff necks, and numbness in the legs. Injuries resulting from sitting for lengthy periods are a serious occupational health and safety problem.
These problems will be more in the future as the trend to work in a sitting position is still increasing. There are insufficient numbers of properly trained physicians to care for occupational diseases. Most occupational diseases are treated by family members or colleagues, and, unfortunately, many of them have had little or no training in occupational disease.
Concerned management and administration in the offices/workplaces should be aware of occupational diseases or the potential dangers involved and the proper safety precautions. The work-related hazards are like, electrical hazards, drowning, confined spaces, power line hazards, stress, fatigue, carbon monoxide, musculo-skeletal hazards, thermal stresses, heavy equipment, structural instability, hazardous materials and fire.
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All health information to keep you up to date
Dr Rubaiul Murshed
Source: The Daily Star, November 01, 2008