The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) as part of a Worksite Health Promotion Program on self-perceived stress, anxiety and depression among male automotive assembly-line workers through a quasi-experimental trial. Two assembly plants were chosen with one receiving PMR therapy and the other Pamphlets. Intention-to-treat analysis was conducted to test the effectiveness of the relaxation therapy. Stress, Depression and Anxiety levels were measured using the shortened DASS-21 questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Chi-square, Independent sample t test and Repeated-measures analysis of variance to test the significance of the effects of intervention (time * group) for the measures of Stress, Depression and Anxiety. Significant favourable intervention effects on stress were found in the PMR group (Effect size=0.6) as compared to the Pamphlet group (Effect size=0.2). There was a significant group *time interaction effect (p<0.001) on Stress levels. Depression and Anxiety levels were minimal at baseline in both the groups with mild or no reduction in levels. The improvement in stress levels showed the potential of PMR therapy as a coping strategy at the workplace. Further research in this field is necessary to examine the beneficial effects of coping strategies in the workplace.
This study aimed at assessing effect of the four dimensions of work-family conflicts (strain and time-based work interference into family and family interference into work) on sleep disturbance in Malaysian working women. This cross-sectional study was conducted among 325 Malaysian married working women. Multiple-stage simple random sampling method was used to recruit women from public service departments of Malaysia. Self-administrated questionnaires were used to measure the study variables and data were analyzed using SPSS version 21. We found that high level of the four dimensions of work-family conflicts significantly increase sleep disturbance. Our analyses also revealed an age-dependent effect of the work-family conflict on sleep disturbance. Women in their 20 to 30 yr old suffer from sleep disturbance due to high level of time-based and strain-based work-interference into family. However, the quality of sleep among women aged 30-39 were affected by strain-based family-interference into work. Finally, women older than 40 yr had significantly disturbed sleep due to strain-based work-interference into family as well as time-based family interference into work. Our findings showed that sleep quality of working women might be disturbed by experiencing high level of work-family conflict. However, the effects of inter-role conflicts on sleep varied among different age groups.
This study aimed to explore the clinical characteristics of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) in a group of tree fellers in a tropical environment. We examined all tree fellers and selected control subjects in a logging camp of central Sarawak for vibration exposure and presence of HAVS symptoms utilizing vibrotactile perception threshold test (VPT) and cold water provocation test (CWP). None of the subjects reported white finger. The tree fellers reported significantly higher prevalence of finger coldness as compared to the control subjects (OR=10.32, 95%CI=1.21-87.94). A lower finger skin temperature, longer fingernail capillary return time and higher VPT were observed among the tree fellers as compared to the control subjects in all fingers (effect size >0.5). The VPT following CWP of the tree fellers was significantly higher (repeated measures ANOVA p=0.002, partial η(2)=0.196) than the control subject. The A (8) level was associated with finger tingling, numbness and dullness (effect size=0.983) and finger coldness (effect size=0.524) among the tree fellers. Finger coldness and finger tingling, numbness and dullness are important symptoms for HAVS in tropical environment that may indicate vascular and neurological damage due to hand-transmitted vibration exposure.
Production agriculture such as harvesting in oil palm plantation has been frequently associated with MSD and significant loss of productivities. This study tends to evaluate from the viewpoint of health, the association between self-reported prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders and productivities; the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on productivity. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 143 harvesters in oil palm plantation. A general questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic background data while Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire was used to determine the prevalence of MSD. Expressed in 4 different indicators; daily harvesting quantity, efficiency score, sick leave and presenteeism, the productivity data were analysed for association. There is significant association between reported acute prevalence of MSD (within 7 d) and productivity loss in terms of presenteeism (χ(2)=5.088; p<0.05) as well as quantity of daily harvest (χ(2)=7.406; p<0.01). Logistic regression adjusted for age, BMI and smoking indicate that harvesters with MSD (past seven days) were more likely to be engaged in presenteeism (OR=2.87 95% CI=1.34, 6.14) and had lower daily productivity (OR=2.09 95% CI=1.02, 4.29) compared to harvesters without MSD (past 7 d). This study reveals that oil palm harvesters suffering acute MSD (for the past week) were likely to be still present to work and produce half lesser than their healthy counterparts. Thus, further study with comprehensive surveillance strategy is essential in order to determine the urgency or need of appropriate intervention.
The objectives of this study are to determine the prevalence of hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) and the characteristics of the vibrotactile perception threshold (VPT) among users of hand-held vibrating tools working in a tropical environment. A cross sectional study was done among 47 shipyard workers using instruments and a questionnaire to determine HAVS related symptoms. The vibration acceleration magnitude was determined using a Human Vibration Meter (Maestro). A P8 Pallesthesiometer (EMSON-MAT, Poland) was used to determine the VPT of index and little finger at frequencies of 31.5 Hz and 125 Hz. The mean reference threshold shift was determined from the reference threshold shift derived from the VPT value. The results show a moderate prevalence of HAVS (49%) among the shipyard workers. They were exposed to the same high intensity level of HAVS (mean = 4.19 ± 1.94 m/s(2)) from the use of vibrating hand-held tools. The VPT values were found to be higher for both fingers and both frequencies (index, 31.5 Hz = 110.91 ± 7.36 dB, 125 Hz = 117.0 ± 10.25 dB; little, 31.5 Hz = 110.70 ± 6.75 dB, 125 Hz = 117.71 ± 10.25 dB) compared to the normal healthy population with a mean threshold shift of between 9.20 to 10.61 decibels. The frequency of 31.5 Hz had a higher percentage of positive mean reference threshold shift (index finger=93.6%, little finger=100%) compared to 125 Hz (index finger=85.1%, little finger=78.7%). In conclusion, the prevalence of HAVS was lower than those working in a cold environment; however, all workers had a higher mean VPT value compared to the normal population with all those reported as having HAVS showing a positive mean reference threshold shift of VPT value.
The European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have applied different approaches to facilitate the implementation of the UN Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). The EU applied the mandatory approach by gazetting the EU Regulation 1272/2008 incorporating GHS elements on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures in 2008; whereas the WHO utilized a voluntary approach by incorporating GHS elements in the WHO guidelines entitled 'WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard' in 2009. We report on an analysis of both the mandatory and voluntary approaches practised by the EU and the WHO respectively, with close reference to the GHS 'purple book'. Our findings indicate that the mandatory approach practiced by the EU covers all the GHS elements referred to in the second revised edition of the GHS 'purple book'. Hence we can conclude that the EU has implemented the GHS particularly for industrial chemicals. On the other hand, the WHO guidelines published in 2009 should be revised to address concerns raised in this paper. In addition, both mandatory and voluntary approaches should be carefully examined because the classification results may be different.
Competencies of occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals have become a concern due to the significance of safety management in the field of safety engineering. The purpose of this article is to identify competencies needed by OSH professionals. These competencies are required by professionals in administrating and enforcing legislations related to OSH in Malaysia. This study used Delphi technique in three rounds of data collection. The benefits of this research approach are the use of experts in gaining opinions without time and geographical restraints. The results show 25 generic competencies with combinations of cognitive, interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies and 33 functional or specific competencies including knowledge and skills needed by OSH professionals. Both generic and functional competencies are also divided into threshold and differentiating competencies that would be used to differentiate average and excellent performance of OSH professionals.
Chemical classification and labelling systems may be roughly similar from one country to another but there are significant differences too. In order to harmonize various chemical classification systems and ultimately provide consistent chemical hazard communication tools worldwide, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) was endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Several countries, including Japan, Taiwan, Korea and Malaysia, are now in the process of implementing GHS. It is essential to ascertain the comprehensibility of chemical hazard communication tools that are described in the GHS documents, namely the chemical labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Comprehensibility Testing (CT) was carried out with a mixed group of industrial workers in Malaysia (n=150) and factors that influence the comprehensibility were analysed using one-way ANOVA. The ability of the respondents to retrieve information from the SDS was also tested in this study. The findings show that almost all the GHS pictograms meet the ISO comprehension criteria and it is concluded that the underlying core elements that enhance comprehension of GHS pictograms and which are also essential in developing competent persons in the use of SDS are training and education.
Depression, anxiety and stress have been recognized as important mental outcome measures in stressful working settings. The present study explores the prevalence of self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress; and their relationships with psychosocial job factors. A cross-sectional study involving 728 male automotive assembly workers was conducted in two major automotive assembly plants in Malaysia using the validated Malay versions of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS) and Job Content Questionnaire (JCQ). Based on the DASS cut-off of > or =78 percentile scores, the prevalence of self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress was 35.4%, 47.2% and 31.1%, respectively. Four (0.5%), 29 (4.0%) and 2 (0.3%) workers, respectively, reported extremely severe self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress. Multiple linear regression analyses, controlling for age, education, salary, duration of work and marital status, revealed that psychological job demand, job insecurity and hazardous condition were positively associated with DASS-Depression, DASS-Anxiety and DASS-Stress; supervisor support was inversely associated with DASS-Depression and DASS-Stress. We suggest that reducing psychological job demand, job insecurity and hazardous condition factors may improve the self-perceived depression, anxiety and stress in male automotive assembly workers. Supervisor support is protective for self-perceived depression and stress.
To determine the risk factors associated with complain of low back pain. A cross sectional study was done from June 2004 until August 2005. Seven hundred and sixty commercial vehicle drivers from 11 bus companies in central, northern and eastern regions in Malaysia participated in this study. Modified Nordic questionnaire was used to determine the prevalence of low back pain; Maestro human vibration meter was used to measure the personal R.M.S values of lateral, anterior-posterior and vertical axes. Modified Owas was used to assess the awkward posture of the driver torso namely, bending forward movement, leaning, sitting straight and twisting. Profile of Mood States (POMS) was used to evaluate the mood states of bus drivers with complain of low back pain. A high prevalence of low back pain (60.4%) among Malaysian commercial vehicle drivers was found. Logistic regression analysis controlling for age, income, education level and non occupational activities revealed that the following factors were related to low back pain: Tension-anxiety [1.080, 95% CI 1.041-1.121], depression dejection [1.047, 95% CI 1.023-1.072], anger-hostility [1.053, 95% CI 1.027-1.081], fatigue [1.132, 95% CI 1.089-1.177] and confusion [1.114, 95% CI 1.061-1.169] of POMS, length of employment [1.001, 95% CI 1.0-1.003], steering wheel adjustment [1.521, 95% CI 1.101-2.101], perception of exposing to vibration [1.943, 95% CI 1.389-2.719]. In conclusion, combinations of risks lead to high increase of low back pain complain among Malaysian bus drivers.
Noise is one of the hazards faced by workers. A cross-sectional study was conducted among industries in Negeri Sembilan with the objective to assess their compliance to Hearing Conservation Programme (HCP). The other objectives of this study were to determine the factors influencing it and to show the industries' compliance to each element of the programme. It was also to identify the association between compliance to HCP and the prevalence of hearing impairment and standard threshold shift. Data for this study were collected using questionnaires sent by mail and also the results of the latest audiometric tests. A total of 167 industries were analysed for this study. It was found that 41.3% of these industries fully complied to the programme. It was also found that the industries preferred to provide hearing protection device (92.8%) and least complied to noise control (61.1%). There were significant associations (p<0.05) between compliance and number of employees, status of ownership and the presence of officer in charge of hearing conservation programme. Having at least 150 employees actually raised the compliance to HCP in two folds (beta = 0.717, OR = 2.048, C.I 95% = 1.063 to 3.944). The prevalences of hearing impairment and standard threshold shift were 23.9% and 5.2% respectively. There was no significant association between the prevalence for hearing impairment and compliance to HCP. The prevalence for standard threshold shift was inversely related to compliance. This study showed that compliance percentage need to be improved as an effort to prevent the hearing problems among workers exposed to noise.
A cross-sectional survey of semiconductor factories was conducted to identify the ergonomic risk factors in the work processes, the prevalence of body pain among workers, and the relationship between body pain and work processes. A total of 906 women semiconductor workers took part in the study. In wafer preparation and polishing, a combination of lifting weights and prolonged standing might have led to high pain prevalences in the low back (35.0% wafer preparation, 41.7% wafer polishing) and lower limbs (90.0% wafer preparation, 66.7% wafer polishing). Semiconductor front of line workers, who mostly walked around to operate machines in clean rooms, had the lowest prevalences of body pain. Semiconductor assembly middle of line workers, especially the molding workers, who did frequent lifting, had high pain prevalences in the neck/shoulders (54.8%) and upper back (43.5 %). In the semiconductor assembly end of line work section, chip inspection workers who were exposed to prolonged sitting without back support had high prevalences of neck/shoulder (62.2%) and upper back pain (50.0%), while chip testing workers who had to climb steps to load units had a high prevalence of lower limb pain (68.0%). Workers in the assembly of electronic components, carrying out repetitive tasks with hands and fingers, and standing in awkward postures had high pain prevalences in the neck/shoulders (61.5%), arms (38.5%), and hands/wrists (30.8%).
The purpose of this paper is to clarify the reference vibrotactile perception thresholds (VPT) for healthy people in Malaysia. The measurement equipment standard, ISO 13091-1, of the vibrotactile perception thresholds for the assessment of nerve dysfunction and the analysis and interpretation of measurements at the fingertips standard, ISO 13091-2, were published in ISO/TC108/SC4/WG8 on 2001 and 2003 individually. In the ISO 13091-2 standard, the reference VPT data were obtained from few research papers. Malaysian people's VPT data don't include to this standard. In Malaysia, when the VPT is using to diagnose of the hand-arm vibration syndrome, the reference VPT data need to compare with the worker's ones. But, Malaysia does not have the reference VPT data yet. So, in this paper, the VPT was measured by using ISO 13091-1 standard equipment to obtain the reference data for Malaysian people. And these data were compared with the ISO reference data on the ISO 13091-2 standard. From the comparison of these data, it was clear that the Malaysian healthy people's VPT data were consistent with the reference data of the ISO 13091-2 standard.
We examined the effects of pesticides on the central and peripheral nervous system in the setting of a tobacco farm at a developing country. Maximal motor and sensory nerve conduction velocities (MCV and SCV, respectively) in the median, sural and tibial nerves, postural sway, and brain-evoked potentials (auditory event-related and visual-evoked potentials) were measured in 80 male tobacco farmers and age- and sex-matched 40 controls in Kelantan, Malaysia. Median SCV (finger-wrist) in farmers using Delsen (mancozeb, dithiocarbamate fungicide), who showed significant decrease of serum cholinesterase activities, were significantly lower compared with the controls. Sural SCV in farmers using Fastac (alpha-cypermethrin, pyrethroid insecticide) and median MCV (elbow-wrist) in farmers using Tamex (butralin, dinitroaniline herbicide) were significantly slowed compared with their respective controls. In Delsen (mancozeb, dithiocarbamate) users, the power of postural sway of 0-1 Hz was significantly larger than that in the controls both in the anterior-posterior direction with eyes open and in the right-left direction with eyes closed. The former type of sway was also significantly increased in Tamaron (methamidophos, organophosphorus insecticide) users. In conclusion, nerve conduction velocities and postural sway seem to be sensitive indicators of the effects of pesticides on the central and peripheral nervous system.
The effects of safety behaviours associated with pesticide use on the occurrence of acute organ symptoms in 395 male and 101 female tobacco-growing farmers in Malaysia were studied. We used a 15-questionnaire checklist on safe pesticide-use behaviours and a 25-questionnaire checklist on acute organ symptoms reported shortly after spraying pesticides. Results of stepwise multiple linear regression analysis indicated that no smoking while spraying, good sprayer-condition, and changing clothes immediately after spraying significantly prevented occurrence of acute symptoms just after pesticide spray in male farmers; in female farmers, only wearing a hat while spraying significantly prevented the symptoms. Safety behaviours in pesticide use in male and female tobacco-growing farmers are discussed in the light of these findings.
The free-living protozoan Acanthamoeba is an opportunistic pathogen that is ubiquitous in our environment. However, its role in affecting indoor air quality and ill-health of indoor occupants is relatively unknown. The present study investigated the presence of Acanthamoeba from the ventilation system and its correlation with other indoor air quality parameters, used in the industry code of practice and its potential as an indicator for indoor air quality. Indoor air quality assessments were carried out in nine commercial buildings with approval from the building management, and the parameters assessed were as recommended by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health. The presence of Acanthamoeba was determined through dust swabs from the ventilation system and indoor furniture. Logistic regression was performed to study the correlation between assessed parameters and occupants' complaints. A total of 107 sampling points were assessed and 40.2% of the supplying air diffuser and blowing fan and 15% of the furniture were positive for cysts. There was a significant correlation between Acanthamoeba detected from the ventilation system with ambient total fungus count (r=0.327; p=0.01) and respirable particulates (r=0.276; p=0.01). Occupants' sick building syndrome experience also correlated with the presence of Acanthamoeba in the ventilation system (r=0.361; p=0.01) and those detected on the furniture (r=0.290; p=0.01). Logistic regression showed that there was a five-fold probability of sick building syndrome among occupants when Acanthamoeba was detected in the ventilation system.
Malaysian construction sector is regarded as critical in the field of health because of the high rates of accidents and fatalities. This research aimed to determine the prevalence, sources and severity of injuries and its association with commitment to safety among foreign construction workers. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 323 foreign construction workers from six construction projects of a large organization in Malaysia, using a simple random sampling method. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire to assess work-related injuries and safety commitment. The collected data was analysed by SPSS 22.0 using descriptive statistics and χ2 test. The prevalence of work-related injuries in a one year period was 22.6%, where most of the injuries were of moderate severity (39.7%) and falls from heights represented the main source (31.5%). The majority of the foreign construction workers had perceived between moderate and high safety commitment, which was significantly associated with work-related injuries. The results also showed a significant association of work-related injuries with the company's interest in Safety and Health, Safety and Health training, and safety equipment. Thus, the implementation of new procedures and providing relevant trainings and safety equipment; will lead to a decrease in injury rates in construction sites.
Elbow length PVC gloves are often recommended for protection against organophosphorus pesticide (OP) exposure in agriculture. However, performance may be reduced due to high temperature, UV exposure and abrasion. We sought to assess these impacts for two OPs under normal use and reasonable worst-case scenarios. Glove permeation tests were conducted using ASTM cells with two PVC glove brands at 23°C and 45°C for up to 8 h. Technical grade dichlorvos and formulated diazinon were used undiluted and at application strength. Breakthough of undiluted dichlorvos occurred at both 23°C and 45°C, but only at 45°C for application strength. Breakthrough of diazinon was not achieved, except when undiluted at 45°C. UV-exposed and abraded gloves showed reduced performance, with the effect being approximately two-fold for dichlorvos. Only small differences were noted between glove brands. Extra precautions should be taken when handling concentrated OPs at high temperature, or when using abraded or sunlight-exposed gloves.