Exposure to wet work in working Australians Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • BACKGROUND: The Australian National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance (NHEWS) Survey 2008 was a cross-sectional survey undertaken by Safe Work Australia to inform the development of exposure prevention initiatives for occupational disease. This is a descriptive study of workplace exposures. OBJECTIVES: To assess the occupational and demographic characteristics of workers reporting exposure to wet work. METHODS: Computer-assisted telephone interviews were conducted with 4500 workers. Two wet work exposure outcomes (frequent washing of hands and duration of time spent at work with the hands immersed in liquids) were analysed. RESULTS: The response rate for the study was 42.3%. For hand-washing, 9.8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 8.9-10.7] reported washing their hands more than 20 times per day. For immersion of hands in liquids, 4.5% (95% CI 3.9-5.1) reported immersion for more than 2 hr per day. Females were more likely to report exposure to frequent hand-washing than males [odds ratio (OR) 1.97, 95% CI 1.49-2.61]. Workers in the lowest occupational skill level jobs were more likely to report increased exposure to hands immersed in liquids than those in the highest (OR 6.41, 95% CI 3.78-10.88). Workers reporting skin exposure to chemicals were more likely to report exposure to hand-washing (OR 3.68, 95% CI 2.91-4.66) and immersion of the hands in liquids (OR 4.09, 95% CI 2.92-5.74). CONCLUSIONS: Specific groups of workers reported high levels of exposure to wet work. There were differences between the profiles of workers reporting frequent hand-washing and workers reporting increased duration of exposure to hands immersed in liquids. We also found a high correlation between wet work and chemical exposure.

publication date

  • February 2012