Projects

The respiratory and cutaneous effects of hard and soft wood exposure

Our goal was to assess the relationships between wood dust exposure and respiratory and skin problems in softwood sawmill workers. 53 workers’ exposures and effects were measured over a work-week. The controls were male workers in other industries, not exposed to significant respiratory hazards.

Re-analysis of workplace datasets to examine co-occurrence of lung and skin symptoms

Four workplace based studies conducted previously were combined and reanalyzed to determine the occurrence of skin and lung symptoms in several populations of workers and determine how common it is to have co-existing lung and skin symptoms. The studies were of embalmer, soda ash workers (ammonia), softwood workers and cabinet makers.

Dermatitis in the services sector: understanding the issues – a pilot project

We were interested in gauging the level of awareness of WRCD in the services sector, and identifying the key issues related to WRCD prevention. We conducted focus groups and electronic surveys of 37 Ontario Services Safety Alliance (OSSA) staff, and 39 OSSA Advisory Committee members.

Key exposures and industries causing work-related contact dermatitis

We used the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) database, which now includes occupational factors, to identify common occupational contact allergens. We then linked this information to the respiratory literature to identify whether these agents caused occupational asthma (OA). We also assessed the utility of the NACDG database itself, as a tool for research and surveillance. We analyzed patch test data for 3676 patients seen at the two Canadian NACDG Centres between 2001 and 2006.

Repeated mechanical trauma to the hands and the use of anti-impaction gloves

To describe the experience of treatment with anti-impaction gloves in workers with frictional hand dermatitis in RTW. A case series of workers with FHD is described.

Hand and upper extremity function in workers with occupational contact dermatitis

The study was designed to gain a better understanding of the function of the hand and upper extremity of patients with contact dermatitis. A detailed physical examination of the upper extremity was conducted and the SF36, DLQI, DASH, Work Instability Score and Work Limitations Questionnaire were administered to patients with hand dermatitis.

Workplace sensitizers - exploration of skin and lung routes of exposure, responses and prevention practices: preliminary studies

We held a 2-day workshop which brought together 58 researchers with experience in the host and environmental components of WRCD and OAA. In particular, we targeted those who have considered the two organ systems together (either from a mechanistic or response perspective). The goal was to co-develop a set of questions that need to be addressed in future work, and develop new collaborations to pursue these questions.

Workplace prevention activities experienced by workers with contact dermatitis

We conducted a needs assessment pilot study to identify some common characteristics of workplaces in which workers develop CD. A survey was developed by the clinic team at the Occupational Disease Specialty Program at St. Michael’s Hospital (Toronto), and administered to 17 patients/workers who: (1) had a positive diagnosis of CD, and (2) were employed but stopped work because of complications related to their skin disease. People without a single identifiable workplace but who worked at multiple sites were not included in the study, in order to localize causes to a specific workplace.

Barriers to return-to-work for workers with contact dermatitis

Our goal was to identify possible barriers and facilitators to RTW for workers with WRCD. We surveyed 15 patients who were being assessed for possible work-related contact dermatitis at the St. Michael’s Hospital Occupational Health Clinic (Toronto). Our survey probed current work and disease status, and asked participants to identify factors that they perceived to be barriers and facilitators to the RTW process.

Physician-diagnosed asthma, respiratory and cutaneous symptoms, immunologic sensitization and exposures among cleaners

The objective of the study was to assess the prevalence of lung and skin symptoms and determine associations between exposures and symptoms. Questionnaires were completed by indoor cleaners and other building workers and results compared between the two groups.