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Occupational ill-health | Prevention and Management of occupational diseases


Occupational ill-health | Prevention and management of occupational diseases

Occupational ill-health is recognizable, undesirable physical or mental condition occurring by a work-related activity or conditions and may become severe overtime. It is a chronic disease caused by repeated exposure to work hazard during performing routine work activities. It has multiple causes including work environment together with other risk factors. Occupation diseases may be occurring individually or among a group of exposed people and develops over time.  Before identifying, the illness may need substantial treatment or could be permanent.

Type of Occupational Diseases/ ill-health

Occupational health hazards are due to exposure of chemical, physical, biological or ergonomic.

Occupational diseases are broadly divided into two categories

  1. Disease caused by exposure to agent
  2. Diseases by target organ

Occupational Diseases Caused by Exposure to agents

1. Caused by exposure to chemical agent
  • Inorganic - e.g. lead, arsenic, silica, 
  • Organic - e.g. solvents, glues, resins, fluxes

2. Caused by exposure to physical agent
  • noise, vibration, compressed air
  • ionizing radiation, Eg. -X- rays, gamma rays, beta particles, alpha particles
  • non-ionizing radiation Eg. Microwaves, infrared, visible and UV light (optical)
  • Exposure to extreme temperature and humidity.
  • Ergonomic exposure Eg. Repeated movement, body posture, load bearing, etc

3. Caused by exposure to biological agent
  • Infectious Eg. Bacteria (Tuberculosis, Leptospira, Tuberculosis, etc), Viruses (Hepatitis B, etc)
  • Parasitic diseases
  • Allergens of biological origin Eg. laboratory animals, insects, mice, wood and other plant material, fungal spores.

4. Caused by Psychological exposure
Various aspects of work activities, peer group pressure, and work environment and work organization may be stressors.

 [What is occupational health?]

Occupational Diseases by target organ systems

Respiratory diseases/ Inhalation disorders

Respiratory system is split into three areas
  1. Upper respiratory tract or airways, including the mouth, nose, sinuses, throat and larynx
  2. Middle respiratory tract, including the windpipe and bronchi
  3. Lower airways, including bronchioles and lung vesicles.

Inhalation disorders are associated with inhaling a chemical or biological substance that may be in the form of dust, smoke, fog, gas or vapor or animal allergens, fungal spores and bacteria. When workers breathe them in, they can damage the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract. In some cases, dangerous agents travel from the lungs to other parts of the body and damage other organs.
Many people have a genetic predisposition to allergic diseases. After exposure to chemical or biological agents, they are more likely to develop conditions such as rhinitis and asthma.

Types of inhalation problems | Lung Diseases

Occupational diseases - Pneumoconiosis
Occupational diseases - Pneumoconiosis

Pneumoconiosis includes a group of lung diseases caused by the inhalation of insoluble dust, usually mineral dust, that the lungs cannot eliminate. The most common diseases in this group are
  1. Silicosis,
  2. Juvenile pneumoconiosis
  3. Asbestosis.


Occupation disease - Silicosis
Occupation disease - Silicosis
It is form of pneumoconiosis, a "progressive" disease, worsens even after exposure stops, and is characterized by increased respiratory difficulties, which sometimes result in death. Allowable exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica is 50 µgm per cubic meter of air.
Cause: Inhalation of crystalline silica dust (quartz).
Source of exposure: It is common among people working in quarries, mines and sandblasting, as well as among people who work in the ceramics industry and iron and steel foundries.
Preventive measures:
Ensure adequate exhaust/ ventilation, use frequent water spray to reduce emission. Give frequent break, limit manual operation or limit the manpower, ensure use of respirators at worksite.

Juvenile pneumoconiosis:

It is form of pneumoconiosis and characterized by a mild cough and the production of black sputum. In some people, this leads to progressive massive fibrosis, disability and death.
Cause:  Inhalation of coal dust.
Source of exposure: Coal mine, coal transportation, coal handling
Preventive measures: ensure use of dust mask, Shower after duty, decontaminate the clothing/ apron, remove the dust safely from clothing, before eating and drinking wash face and hands thoroughly,  no smoking at work area without washing hand, report immediately about any symptoms of pneumoconiosis to physician, carry out periodic medical check-up  & regular chest X-rays.


Occupational diseases - Asbestosis
Occupational diseases - Asbestosis

It is a form of pneumoconiosis which is characterised by scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue. It is a chronic, irreversible condition in which symptoms usually begin to develop several decades after exposure to asbestos. These often progress to seriously affect normal daily activity and can lead to several complications that can be fatal. In general, it is recognized that large exposures to asbestos are necessary to produce clinically significant asbestosis during an individual's life. It is characterized by scarring or fibrosis of the lungs after prolonged exposure to asbestos. Symptoms include shortness of breath, an unproductive cough and a "bite": deformity of the fingers and fingers. It is usually progressive, which invariably leads to death. It is also associated with mesothelioma and lung cancer.

Cause:  Inhalation of asbestos fibers

Source of exposure: Asbestos manufacturing mill, asbestos handling, equipment manufacturing, insulation work, other asbestos handling work.  

Preventive measures:
  • Make sure the work area is isolated from the rest facility.
  • Air conditioning should be turned off.
  • Apply a wetting agent to asbestos material to minimize the release of fibers into the air.
  • Cleaning should be done with damp mops, rags and sponges. Do not allow the use of common vacuum cleaners. Asbestos fibers can pass through the filter of common vacuum cleaners and reach the air. However, HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners can be used. Make sure all asbestos materials, disposable equipment and clothing are placed in sealed and marked containers and disposed of properly.

Work-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

It is a lung disease caused by narrow airways, which makes breathing difficult. Other symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and increased phlegm production. Conditions in which the air flow in the lungs is gradually reduced by damage to the lung tissue and respiratory tract.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a term used to describe a progressive and irreversible limitation of air flow to the lungs. COPD includes two main diseases: chronic bronchitis bron: a condition in which inflammation narrows the airways in the lungs (bronchi) and causes chronic bronchial secretions; and  Emphysema: a permanent destructive bond

Cause:  smoking, exposure to different types of hazardous substances, occupational exposure to various dusts, fumes and vapors, etc.

Source of exposure: : Dust, gases and fumes of professional origin, air pollution in the environment.

Preventive measures:
  • Reduction of total personal exposure to tobacco smoke, dust and workplace chemicals and indoor and outdoor air pollutants.
  • Brief treatment for tobacco dependence is effective
  • Three types of counseling are particularly effective: practical advice, social support during treatment and social support organized outside of treatment
  • Chronic treatment with systemic glucocorticosteroids should be avoided due to an unfavorable risk / benefit ratio.
  • All COPD patients benefit from physical training programs, improving both exercise tolerance and symptoms of dyspnea and fatigue.

Non-malignant pleural disease
Non-malignant pleural disease is a non-cancerous condition that affects the outer lining of the lung (the pleura). It includes two forms of disease: diffuse pleural thickening and less severe pleural plaques.

Other Respiratory Diseases

Rhinitis Allergic
Allergic Rhinitis is the inflammation of the cells along the nose, is inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nasal airways produced by an allergic reaction. When caused by plant pollen it is typically referred to as hay fever, but it may be caused by a wide range of other substances that can be present in workplaces. Often, these are substances that can also lead to occupational asthma. Allergic rhinitis is often characterised by common cold-like symptoms, but without a fever, congestion, itching and sneezing.
Cause:  Inhalation of plant pollen, grass pollen, dust mites, animal dander, which is old skin, cat saliva, mold, etc

Preventive measures:
  • if you’re sensitive to tree pollen in the spring, you may want to start taking antihistamines before an allergic reaction has the chance to occur. Stay indoors during peak pollen hours, and take a shower immediately after being outside. 
  • Use PPE viz dust mask, other respirator.
  • Keep wet the floorto prevent dust emissions

Fever due to inhalation

Occupational illness - Fever due to inhalation
Occupational illness - Fever due to inhalation

Inhalation fever includes polymeric fever and metallic fever.

Polymeric smoke fever
It is inhalation fever and symptoms resemble the flu and include fever, cough, and chest pain or tightness.

Cause:  Smoke inhalation, which is emitted when polytetrafluoroethylene is heated at high temperatures.
Preventive measures: Use appropriate PPEs as half cartridge mask, coverall, ensure adequate ventilation, etc

Metallic smoke fever
It is inhalation fever and the patient has flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, and chest pain or tightness.

Cause:  Inhalation of smoke that contains certain types of metal oxides, for example, zinc oxide and magnesium oxide, or by the inhalation of smoke that occurs when heating or melting metals.

Source of exposure: Welding work, workshop and foundry.

Preventive measures: Use respirator protection, ensure adequate ventilation in welding area, Air blower must be used in confined area, etc

Bronchopulmonary Diseases - Byssinosis

Byssinosis disease is associated with exposure to cotton dust with both acute & long term effects. It is typically characterised by asthma-like symptoms but can lead to irreversible reductions in lung function because of narrowed airways and lung scarring. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, cough and airway obstruction. Symptoms usually appear on the first day of the work week and disappear on the following days. If a worker is exposed to cotton cloth for a long time, his symptoms may become chronic.

Cause: Inhalation of Cotton dust
Source of exposure: an untreated cotton cloth, manual cotton handling, textile mill, etc
Preventive measures: Controlling dust is the best way to prevent byssinosis, Use dust mask, ensure adequate ventilation at indoor area.

Occupational illness - Irritation

Occupational irritation may be to the eyes and airways that exposed to gas or smoke based on its solubility. Very high or continuous exposure to a hazardous substance may result in the involvement of the smallest airways, causing inflammation and edema in the bronchiolar and can be fatal if not treated. Certain irritants can also cause permanent lung damage, especially if the exposure is very high or common. Others can make people susceptible to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or pneumonia.

Cause: Inhalation of various types of dust, gases and soluble vapours such as ammonia, chlorine sulfur dioxide and insoluble gases, such as phosgene. Nitric acid, fluoride and ozone can also cause a late reaction.

Preventive measures: Usually, if someone is exposed to an irritant, they will move away from the source, limiting any damage

Occupational illness - Suffocation or Asphyxiation

Simple suffocators are inert gases or vapors such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane, which displace oxygen from the air in high concentrations. Chemical choking agents include carbon monoxide, which is combined with haemoglobin to prevent the supply of oxygen to cells, and hydrogen cyanide and hydrogen sulfide, which interrupt breathing at the cellular level.

Cause: Deficiency of oxygen
Source of exposure: confined spaces, Inert atmosphere, CO and HCN atmosphere
Preventive measures: Use breathing apparatus, Ensure adequate ventilation, Ensure provision of air blowers in confined space, monitor oxygen concentration frequently in confined spaces, etc

Occupational illness - Asthma

Asthma is an inflammation of the airways, a chronic condition characterized by periodic inflammation of the bronchi and hardening of the surrounding muscles. Typical symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and breathing problems.
Asthma can be divided into two categories: occupational asthma and work-related asthma.

Occupational Asthma
Severe asthma attacks can lead to hospitalization and be fatal. Occupational asthma is usually triggered in those who already suffer from it, but anyone can develop it.
During an asthma attack, a person may experience wheezing, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, rapid breathing, anxiety and panic, a pale, sweaty face, difficulty speaking and blue lips or nails.

Cause: Deficiency of oxygen to lungs due to exposure of chemicals such as isocyanates and acid anhydrides, as well as biological materials such as flour powder and certain proteins and allergens from laboratory animals such as the skin, urine, fur or saliva of rats and mice.

Source of exposure: Occupational asthma is the result of prolonged exposure to respiratory sensitizers present in the workplace or in the context of professional activities such as
spray paint, cleaning products or adhesives, etc. Isocyanates are chemical substances that are often found in two-part paints, glues and pesticides.

Preventive measures:The best way to prevent occupational asthma is to eliminate the hazardous substance and replace it with a less harmful one. But there are cases where it is impossible to eliminate a danger. Exposure should be minimized through controls such as ventilation, work rotation, proper handling procedures, proper maintenance and PPE.

Work-related Asthma
People with asthma have chronic inflammation of the bronchi (respiratory tract). As a result, the bronchial walls swell, which causes the bronchi to shrink, which can cause difficulty breathing. The muscles around the airways also become irritable, so they contract, causing a sudden worsening of symptoms in response to various stimuli, including exposures found at work. Inflammation can also cause the mucous glands of the bronchi to produce excessive sputum that further blocks the already narrow air passages. If the treatment does not control inflammation, while causing acute attacks, it can lead to permanent narrowing and healing of the airways.

Causes: Exposure to irritant gas, fume or vapours.
Source of exposure: Irritants generally occur within hours of exposure to high levels in the workplace.
Preventive measures: The best way to prevent work-related asthma is to eliminate the dangerous substance and replace it with a less harmful one. But there are cases in which it is impossible to eliminate a danger. Exposure should be minimized through controls such as ventilation, work rotation, proper handling procedures, good maintenance and PPE.

Occupational Extrinsic allergic alveolitis

Occupational allergic Alveolitis is the infection of the alveoli by an allergen. Symptoms usually begin a few hours after exposure, with flu-like symptoms: fever, fatigue, and chills. As the disease progresses, the patient suffers from breathing difficulties and develops a cough. Persistent exposure can cause chronic symptoms and fibrosis of the lungs. The "farmer's lung" is a type of extrinsic allergic alveolitis and is caused by inhaling dust or traces of moldy hay, grain or straw.

Cause: inhalation of organic dusts or microbially contaminated aerosols
Source of exposure: arising from work agricultural activities creating dust or spores arising from mouldy hay, grain or straw.
Preventive measures: Use dust masks, half/ full mask respirator, ensure adequate ventilation, monitor the concentration of organic dust, elimination of antigen exposure antigen can be identified, the most effective therapy is complete avoidance. Acute disease remits without specific therapy.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases caused by the inhalation of coal dust, quarry dust, wood dust, grain dust and agricultural work, dust in stables, textile dust and paper dust, resulting from '' professional activities

Occupational cancer

Cancer is abnormal growth of body cells. Cancer can occur anywhere in the airways, from the nose to the lungs. Although the main cause of lung cancer and other forms of respiratory cancer are the hazardous substances present in some workplaces, they can also cause cancer, for example, crystalline silica, diesel exhaust particles and radon
Asbestos exposure can cause lung or mesothelioma cancer, cancer of the lining of the lungs or intestine. Relatively low levels or short-term exposure to asbestos can cause both types of cancer.

Causes: ageing, exposure to radiation, chemicals and other substances at work and in the environment, family history of cancer, and many behaviours and lifestyle factors such as tobacco smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activities and being overweight. If employees are exposed to asbestos and also smoke, they have a much higher risk of developing lung cancer than those who are exposed or only smoke asbestos.

Source of exposure: People who are generally exposed to asbestos in plumbing work, carpentry work and other work in the construction and maintenance of buildings. People exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, such as coca workers, have an increased risk of lung cancer. Other lung carcinogens are arsenic.

Mesothelioma | Asbestos Cancer to Respiratory system

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes several years to develop after inhaling asbestos fibers, but which is usually fatal after the onset of symptoms. It mainly affects the pleura (the outer lining of the lungs) and the peritoneum (the lining of the lower digestive tract). Many cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage because the symptoms are generally non-specific and appear late in the development of the disease. It is almost always fatal and often within twelve months of the onset of symptoms.

Occupational Skin diseases

Skin diseases caused by exposure to allergens or irritants Occupations with the highest rates are florists, beauticians, chefs, hairdressers and barbers, and certain occupations related to manufacturing and health care. Other conditions reported in EPIDERM include contact urticaria, folliculitis, acne, infectious and mechanical skin diseases and skin cancer.

Work-related skin diseases include any skin disorder caused or aggravated by work or professional activity. "Professional" skin conditions are generally reserved for cases caused directly by work.

The severity of professional skin disease can vary widely, from severe cases of dermatitis to mild skin irritations, which the individual may not recognize as an adverse health effect.

The term "occupational" skin disease is generally reserved for cases that are directly caused by work.

Allergic contact dermatoses Contact with soaps and cleaning products and working with wet hands are still the most common causes of occupational dermatitis. Other common causative agents are "chemicals and rubber materials", "personal protective equipment" (including latex gloves), "preservatives", "bleaches and sterilizers" and "nickel".
Dermatitis is the inflammation of the upper layer of the skin. Dermatitis causes the skin to break out in rashes that burn or itch. The skin can become inflamed, itchy, blisters, cracks and dryness.
Occupational dermatitis most often affects the hands and forearms. Indeed, the substances that cause dermatitis generally come into contact with these areas.

Cause: soaps, detergents, cleaning chemicals, and flour. Frequent sashing of hands can also cause contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatoses caused by other recognized irritant agents occurring from work activities.

Cause: contact with irritants include soil, meat, fish, poultry, citrus fruits, dough, spices, herbs, and sugar.

Preventive measure: Gloves can reduce exposure and prevent dermatitis. However, some people are sensitive to latex and rubber and may need cotton or hypoallergenic gloves. To reduce exposure, job rotation may be the best option.

Occupational Musculoskeletal Disorders 

Musculoskeletal disorder is a muscle and joint problem that affects the ability to work and live well. It includes, for example, various types of stress, sprains and excessive use. back problems, slipping discs and work-related problems in the upper limbs. Other symptoms vary depending on the person, such as pain, numbness, stiffness, swelling, and tingling.

They can be episodic or chronic and can also be the result of injuries during a work accident. Moreover, they can develop from mild to severe disorders. These disorders are rarely life threatening, but affect the quality of life of a large proportion of the adult population. Work-related disorders can develop in a work environment due to the physical tasks with which people perform their normal work activities.

WRMSDs are associated with working models that include:
  • Fixed or limited body positions
  • Continuous repetition of movements.
  • Strength concentrated in small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist.
  • A work pace that allows insufficient recovery between movements. In addition, psychosocial factors in the workplace, such as organizational culture, health and safety climate and human factors, can create the conditions for WRMSD to occur.
  • Patients who present WRMSD to their GP suggest that most suffer from back pain or hand, wrist or arm problems. This may be due to repetitive movements and probably reflects what is suggested in the Labor Force Survey.

Here are the types of musculoskeletal disorders.
Radial styloid tenosynovitis related to repetitive movements, vigorous actions and severe postures of the wrist.

Olecranon bursitis related to protracted pressure on elbow region.

Prepatellar bursitis related to extended stay in kneeling posture.

Epicondylitis related to repetitive strong work.

Meniscus lesions subsequent prolonged periods of work on knee or squat posture.

Carpal tunnel syndrome related to prolonged periods of repetitive vigorous work, vibration work, severe positions of the wrist, etc

Hand arm vibration: Exposure to vibration due to power tools may cause Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome consist of two components: Vibration White Finger and sensorineural effects.

Causes: The causes of common musculoskeletal problems are:
  • Lifting heavy or awkward loads.
  • Repetitive activities such as packing and stacking.
  • Sitting in awkward positions for prolonged periods.

Preventive measures: Numerous health and safety practices reduce the risk of Musculoskeletal disorder. Consider the assistance of mechanical aid or another person. If the job involves manual lifting, reduce weight where possible and distribute it evenly while carrying. Break repetitive tasks performing repetitive tasks. Change keyboard monitor or mouse layout to resolve the problems of wrists and neck pain.  Changes in chair or desk can be considered to accommodate height. Avoid positioning of yourself uncomfortably as this places strain on your body.

Mental and behavioural disorders

Stress is harmful reaction that people have pressures and requirements placed on them at work. Stress at work is psychosocial factors and is related with common conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, depression and may associated with musculoskeletal disorders.

Other mental or behavioral disorders can be determined scientifically or by methods appropriate to national circumstances and practices, between exposure to risk factors resulting from professional activities and mental and behavioral disorders developed through work.

Work-related stress and mental health problems are responses to significant levels of pressure and long-term demand in the workplace, especially when this demand exceeds its capacity. It compromises your ability to cope and causes a deterioration in your mental state. Chronic stress influences work and health in general and can lead to depression.

Chronic work-related stress causes physical and mental disorders, such as skin problems, chest pain, headache, nausea or dizziness, panic attacks, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, frequent colds, fatigue, apathy Forgetting to become too emotional, aggressive / negative, refuses to listen to advice / requests. and withdraws

Unlike other diseases, the causes of work stress are more abstract and are not limited to one or two specific professions. Work stress is caused by too many or too few demands, lack of control, lack of support, bad relationships, their role. , organizational changes at work, violence and insecurity of roles, that is, uncertainty about work / insecurity about what to do.

Preventive measure
  • Take short breaks during the day.
  • Use holiday pay.
  • Ensure a clear separation between home and work.
  • Determine habits at the end of the day, such as making a list of things you can do tomorrow.
  • Ask for help.
  • Improved time management skills.

Create a general culture of effective stress response prevention without incurring secondary costs due to the side effects of medication, medication costs, lost work days and with clear benefits in terms of work efficiency and balance between work and life. Moreover, these interventions do not generate a stigmatizing response in the entire system, because "they are not psychiatric," even if they are deeply rooted in life and psychological balance.

Stress measurement can be performed using the stress measurement instrument and therefore an action plan for reduction can be developed. There are other tools to prevent the stress level of employees. Yoga and light exercises. Yoga focuses on empowerment and self-efficacy, works at body level to influence the mind-body system and promotes a central role for employees in the search for health and balance in daily life.

There is sufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that the introduction of large-scale yoga in the workplace and meditation will benefit both employees and the performance of teams and organizations.

Some people are not in favor of yoga because of their perception that it is not practical, philosophical, esoteric, religious, and at least as something related to personal life and personal choices.

To overcome these prejudices, yoga teachers must develop the skills to introduce yoga and give yoga classes in profan language, with scientific evidence of the benefits of yoga.

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Occupational Diseases Noise

Noise is defined as "unwanted sounds," while sound is a term used to describe the sensation the brain receives when the ear detects changes in air pressure. The higher the noise level and the more people are exposed to it, the greater the risk of damage.
The effects can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage and affect the effectiveness of employees. People with hearing problems, whether due to their age or illness, can make their problems worse by being exposed to higher noise levels at work. It can also cause accidents due to limited voice communication, misunderstandings about verbal instructions and masking sounds of imminent danger or warnings.

Main sources of noise at work
  • Use of heavy machinery
  • Vehicle movement in workplace
  • Use of power tools such as circular saws and cutting heads.
  • Production lines
  • Use of pneumatic tools such as drills, grinders and staplers
  • Use of electric motors and generators
  • Engineering processes such as metal production.
  • Factory facilities where ventilation equipment must operate continuously.

Dangerous noise levels
Noise levels above 75-80 dB (A) cause hearing damage.Noise level of 85 dB (A) may take eight hours to damage hearing, while noise of 100 dB (A) can damage the hair cells in the ear after 30 minutes.

Symptoms of hearing loss
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Inability to hear soft and high pitched sounds
  • Speech and other sound damping
  • Difficulty understanding conversations from a distance or in a crowd
  • Difficult to determine from which direction the sound comes
  • Feel tired or stressed regularly because you have to concentrate while listening
  • Inappropriate responses or responses in conversations
  • Read lips or see people's faces with more attention during conversations
  • Feel nervous about listening and understanding others.

It takes ten years from the moment someone realizes they have a hearing loss before doing something.

Effects of noise on health
Health effects can be caused by a single exposure to very loud noise or by exposure to high noise levels over a longer period.
The effects of noise on hearing depend on:
  • Sound intensity or pressure
  • Frequency or tone
  • Exposure time
  • Distance to the source
  • Individual sensitivity
  • Other factors (lifestyle, age, illness, genetics, etc.).

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is the first sign of hearing damage. Extreme exposure to noise surges the risk of tinnitus. If the sound is impulsive, the risk can increase considerably. Tinnitus can be a very painful condition and can lead to sleep disorders and unclear speech. There is no effective cure for this condition, but there is treatment to relieve the symptoms.

The permanent threshold change occurs when people are regularly exposed to high noise levels for a long time. It also occurs with repeated exposure to noise without sufficient time between exposures to allow normal hearing recovery, resulting in permanent hearing damage. Hearing loss can have a significant impact on a person's personal and professional life.

Effect on pregnancy

Exposing pregnant workers to high noise levels can affect the fetus. Research suggests that the long-term exposure of the fetus to high noise levels during pregnancy may have an effect on the child's subsequent hearing and that low frequencies have a greater potential to cause damage.

Physiological effects

Noise can affect the cardiovascular system, causing an increase in blood pressure and the release of catecholamines in the blood. An increase in the level of catecholamines in the blood is associated with stress.

Professional stress

Work stress rarely has a single cause and often results from the interaction of several risk factors. Persistent noise in the work environment can be stressful, even at low levels.

Other effects

Excessive noise levels may increase the risk of unwanted events or incidents by:
  • Distract employees, such as drivers
  • Make it difficult for employees to hear and understand instructions correctly
  • Mask imminent danger noise and warning signs
  • Contribute to irritation and discomfort that can lead to human errors.

An individual's performance on tasks that require constant attention (critical safety tasks) can be affected by noise, as it can distract them, resulting in poor judgment and decision-making processes.


Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Hearing loss (NIHL) caused by sound is permanent and irreversible. A person with hearing loss caused by noise may have trouble hearing people speak three meters away, feel "full" in the ears after leaving a noisy area or suffer from tinnitus: continuous or intermittent calls or ringing that vary in volume.
Cause: If a sound exceeds 85 decibels, prolonged exposure will cause permanent hearing loss. Working in an environment where noise approximately 95 decibels without adequate safety measures or without the use of PPE, can cause NIHL.

Preventive measures: Wear PPE such as earmuffs, install noise control devices, follow the work methods.

You may find affiliate links in this article. This means that if you click on a link and purchase any of the products on this page, we may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, It does not affect our knowledge sharing, opinions or reviews. Everything we do is benefit for you as the reader, so all our knowledge sharing, reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.


Occupational ill-health is a chronic disease caused by repeated exposure to work hazard during performing routine work activities. It has multiple causes including work environment together with other risk factors. Occupation diseases may be occurring individually or among a group of exposed people and develops over time.  Prevention is only option to treat with occupational diseases. Improvement in ergonomic work environment and changes in lifestyle may help to prevent occupational illness. 

You may find affiliate links in this article. This means that if you click on a link and purchase any of the products on this page, we may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you, It does not affect our knowledge sharing, opinions or reviews. Everything we do is benefit for you as the reader, so all our knowledge sharing, reviews are as honest and unbiased as possible.


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