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1.  The Effect of Working Position on Trunk Posture and Exertion for Routine Nursing Tasks: An Experimental Study 
Annals of Occupational Hygiene  2013;58(3):317-325.
Objectives:
To examine the influence of the two following factors on the proportion of time that nurses spend in a forward-bending trunk posture: (i) the bed height during basic care activities at the bedside and (ii) the work method during basic care activities in the bathroom. A further aim was to examine the connection between the proportion of time spent in a forward-bending posture and the perceived exertion.
Methods:
Twelve nurses in a geriatric nursing home each performed a standardized care routine at the bedside and in the bathroom. The CUELA (German abbreviation for ‘computer-assisted recording and long-term analysis of musculoskeletal loads’) measuring system was used to record all trunk inclinations. Each participant conducted three tests with the bed at different heights (knee height, thigh height, and hip height) and in the bathroom, three tests were performed with different work methods (standing, kneeling, and sitting). After each test, participants rated their perceived exertion on the 15-point Borg scale (6 = no exertion at all and 20 = exhaustion).
Results:
If the bed was raised from knee to thigh level, the proportion of time spent in an upright position increased by 8.2% points. However, the effect was not significant (P = 0.193). Only when the bed was raised to hip height, there was a significant increase of 19.8% points (reference: thigh level; P = 0.003) and 28.0% points (reference: knee height; P < 0.001). Bathroom tests: compared with the standing work method, the kneeling and sitting work methods led to a significant increase in the proportion of time spent in an upright posture, by 19.4% points (P = 0.003) and 25.7% points (P < 0.001), respectively. The greater the proportion of time spent in an upright position, the lower the Borg rating (P < 0.001) awarded.
Conclusions:
The higher the proportion of time that nursing personnel work in an upright position, the less strenuous they perceive the work to be. Raising the bed to hip height and using a stool in the bathroom significantly increase the proportion of time that nursing personnel work in an upright position. Nursing staff can spend a considerably greater proportion of their time in an ergonomic posture if stools and height-adjustable beds are provided in healthcare institutions.
doi:10.1093/annhyg/met071
PMCID: PMC3954518  PMID: 24371043
bed height; bending; musculoskeletal disorders; nursing; perceived exertion; trunk posture
2.  Work-related complaints and diseases of physical therapists – protocol for the establishment of a “Physical Therapist Cohort” (PTC) in Germany 
Background
Only few studies deal with the workload of physical therapists and the health consequences, although this occupational group is quite important for the health care system in many industrialized countries (e.g. ca. 136 000 people are currently employed as physical therapists in Germany). Therefore, the current state of knowledge of work-related diseases and disorders of physical therapists is insufficient. The aim of the "Physical Therapist Cohort" (PTC) study is to analyze the association between work-related exposures and diseases among physical therapists in Germany. This article describes the protocol of the baseline assessment of the PTC study.
Methods/Design
A cross-sectional study will be conducted as baseline assessment and will include a representative random sample of approximately 300 physical therapists employed in Germany (exposure group), and a population-based comparison group (n = 300). The comparison group will comprise a sample of working aged (18–65 years) inhabitants of a German city. Variables of interest will be assessed using a questionnaire manual including questions regarding musculoskeletal, dermal, and infectious diseases and disorders as well as psychosocial exposures, diseases and disorders. In addition to subjective measures, a clinical examination will be used to objectify the questionnaire-based results (n = 50).
Discussion
The study, which includes extensive data collection, provides a unique opportunity to study the prospective association of work-related exposures and associated complaints of physical therapists. Baseline results will give first clues with regard to whether and how prevalent main exposures of physiotherapeutic work and typical work areas of physical therapists are associated with the development of work-related diseases. Thereby, this baseline assessment provides the basis for further investigations to examine causal relationships in accordance with a longitudinal design.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-8-34
PMCID: PMC3878737  PMID: 24330548
Study protocol; Cohort study; Physical therapist; Occupational exposure; Occupational health; Occupational disease
3.  Involvement of occupational physicians in the management of MRSA-colonised healthcare workers in Germany – a survey 
Background
Colonisation of healthcare workers (HCWs) with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains (MRSA) is a challenge for any healthcare facility. Persistent carriage of MRSA among HCWs causes special problems, particularly in occupational-medical care. German occupational physicians responsible for healthcare facilities were therefore asked about their experience in managing MRSA-colonised HCWs.
Methods
In May 2012, 549 occupational physicians were asked in writing about in-house management of MRSA-colonised HCWs. The semi-standardised survey form contained questions about collaboration between the infection control team and the occupational physician, the involvement of the occupational physician in in-house management of MRSA carriers and the number of persistently colonised HCWs in 2011. The answers were intended to apply to the largest facility cared for by the occupational physician.
Results
207 occupational physicians took part in the survey (response rate 38%). In 2011, 73 (35%) occupational physicians were responsible for the occupational-medical management of an average of four MRSA-colonised HCWs. Eleven doctors (5.3% of 207) managed a total of 17 persistently colonised HCWs. One of these 17 employees was dismissed. In the case of MRSA carriage among HCWs, most occupational physicians cooperated with the infection control team (77%) and 39% of occupational physicians were responsible for the occupational-medical management of the affected carrier. 65% of facilities had specified policies for the management of MRSA-colonised HCWs. After the first MRSA-positive screening result, 79% of facilities attempt to decolonise the affected employee. In 6% of facilities, the colonised HCWs were excluded from work while receiving decolonisation treatment. In 54% of facilities, infection control policies demand the removal of MRSA carriers from patient care.
Conclusions
Not all facilities have policies for the management of MRSA-colonised HCWs and there are major differences in occupational consequences for the affected HCWs. In order to protect both the employees and the patients, standards for the in-house management of MRSA colonisation in HCWs should be developed.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-8-16
PMCID: PMC3668962  PMID: 23710905
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; Colonisation; Persistent carriage; Healthcare worker; Occupational disease
4.  Infectious diseases in healthcare workers – an analysis of the standardised data set of a German compensation board 
Introduction
Healthcare workers (HCW) are exposed to infectious agents. Disease surveillance is therefore needed in order to foster prevention.
Methods
The data of the compensation board that covers HCWs of non-governmental healthcare providers in Germany was analysed for a five-year period. For hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, the period analysed was extended to the last 15 years. The annual rate of occupational infectious diseases (OIDs) per 100,000 employees was calculated. For needlestick injuries (NSI) a rate per 1,000 employees was calculated.
Results
Within the five years from 2005 to 2009 a total of 384 HCV infections were recognised as OIDs (1.5/100,000 employees). Active TB was the second most frequent cause of an OID. While the numbers of HBV and HCV infections decreased, the numbers for active TB did not follow a clear pattern. Needlestick injuries (NSIs) were reported especially often at hospitals (29.9/1,000 versus 7.4/1,000 employees for all other HCWs).
Conclusion
Although they are declining, HCV infections remain frequent in HCWs, as do NSIs. Whether the reinforcement of the recommendations for the use of safety devices in Germany will prevent NSIs and therefore HCV infections should be closely observed.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-7-8
PMCID: PMC3474162  PMID: 22553942
Healthcare workers; Infections; Tuberculosis; Needlestick injuries; Blood-borne virus infections
5.  MRSA prevalence in european healthcare settings: a review 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:138.
Background
During the past two decades, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become increasingly common as a source of nosocomial infections. Most studies of MRSA surveillance were performed during outbreaks, so that results are not applicable to settings in which MRSA is endemic. This paper gives an overview of MRSA prevalence in hospitals and other healthcare institutions in non-outbreak situations in Western Europe.
Methods
A keyword search was conducted in the Medline database (2000 through June 2010). Titles and abstracts were screened to identify studies on MRSA prevalence in patients in non-outbreak situations in European healthcare facilities. Each study was assessed using seven quality criteria (outcome definition, time unit, target population, participants, observer bias, screening procedure, swabbing sites) and categorized as 'good', 'fair', or 'poor'.
Results
31 observational studies were included in the review. Four of the studies were of good quality. Surveillance screening of MRSA was performed in long-term care (11 studies) and acute care (20 studies). Prevalence rates varied over a wide range, from less than 1% to greater than 20%. Prevalence in the acute care and long-term care settings was comparable. The prevalence of MRSA was expressed in various ways - the percentage of MRSA among patients (range between 1% and 24%), the percentage of MRSA among S. aureus isolates (range between 5% and 54%), and as the prevalence density (range between 0.4 and 4 MRSA cases per 1,000 patient days). The screening policy differed with respect to time points (on admission or during hospital stay), selection criteria (all admissions or patients at high risk for MRSA) and anatomical sampling sites.
Conclusions
This review underlines the methodological differences between studies of MRSA surveillance. For comparisons between different healthcare settings, surveillance methods and outcome calculations should be standardized.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-138
PMCID: PMC3128047  PMID: 21599908
6.  MRSA as an occupational disease: a case series 
Objectives
Occupationally acquired infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an issue of increasing concern. However, the number of cases of occupational disease (OD) due to MRSA in healthcare workers (HCWs) and the characteristics of such cases have not been reported for Germany.
Methods
Cases of OD due to MRSA were identified from the database of a compensation board (BGW) for the years 2006 and 2007 and the individual files analyzed. The variables extracted from these data were occupation, workplace, workplace exposure, and the reasons for recognizing a claim as an OD. Seven cases were selected due to the specific characteristics of their medical history and described in more detail.
Results
Over a 2-year period, a total of 389 MRSA-related claims were reported to the BGW, of which 17 cases with infections were recognized as an OD. The reasons for not recognizing claims as an OD were either a lack of symptomatic infection or lack of a work-related MRSA exposure. The recognized cases were predominantly among staff in hospitals and nursing homes. The most frequent infection sites were ears, nose, and throat, followed by skin infections. Three cases exhibited secondary infection of the joints, associated with skin damage primarily caused by trauma. There was only one case in which a genetic link between an MRSA-infected index patient and MRSA in a HCW was documented. MRSA infections were recognized as an OD due to known contact with MRSA-positive patients or because workplace conditions were presumed to involve increased exposure to MRSA. Long-term incapacity resulted in four cases.
Conclusion
MRSA infection can cause severe health problems in HCWs that may lead to long-term incapacity. As recognition of HCW claims often depends on workplace characteristics, improved surveillance of MRSA infections in HCWs would facilitate the recognition of MRSA infections as an OD.
doi:10.1007/s00420-010-0610-7
PMCID: PMC3037496  PMID: 21212973
MRSA; Occupational disease; Infection; Healthcare worker; Surveillance
7.  Fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers - a systematic review 
Background
Hairdressers often come into contact with various chemical substances which can be found in hair care products for washing, dyeing, bleaching, styling, spraying and perming. This exposure can impair health and may be present as skin and respiratory diseases. Effects on reproduction have long been discussed in the literature.
Method
A systematic review has been prepared in which publications from 1990 to 2010 were considered in order to specifically investigate the effects on fertility and pregnancy. The results of the studies were summarised separately in accordance with the type of study and the examined events.
Results
A total of 2 reviews and 26 original studies on fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers were found in the relevant databases, as well as through hand searches of reference lists. Nineteen different outcomes concerning fertility and pregnancy are analysed in the 26 original studies. Most studies looked into malformation (n = 7), particularly orofacial cleft. Two of them found statistically significant increased risks compared to five that did not. Small for gestational age (SGA), low birth weight (LBW) and spontaneous abortions were frequently investigated but found different results. Taken together the studies are inconsistent, so that no clear statements on an association between the exposure as a hairdresser and the effect on reproduction are possible. The different authors describe increased risks of infertility, congenital malformations, SGA, LBW, cancer in childhood, as well as effects from single substances.
Conclusion
On the basis of the identified epidemiological studies, fertility disorders and pregnancy complications in hairdressers cannot be excluded. Although the evidence for these risks is low, further studies on reproductive risks in hairdressers should be performed as there is a high public health interest.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-5-24
PMCID: PMC2933705  PMID: 20723211
8.  Psychosocial work load and stress in the geriatric care 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:428.
Background
Due to the decrease in informal care by family members and the demographic development, the importance of professional geriatric care will rise considerably. Aim of this study was to investigate the psychosocial workplace situation for employees in this profession.
Methods
The German version of the COPSOQ (Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire) was used for the assessment of psychosocial factors at work. The instrument includes 22 scales and 3 single items concerning demands, control, stress, support, and strain.
Results between two study groups of geriatric care were compared to each other as well as to employees in general hospital care and a general population mean (COPSOQ database).
Statistical analysis included t-tests, ANOVA and multiple comparisons of means. Statistical significance (p < 0.01, two-tailed) and a difference of at least 5 points in mean values were defined as the relevant threshold.
Results
In total 889 respondents from 36 institutions took part in the study. 412 worked in Home Care (HC), 313 in Geriatric Nursing Homes (GNH), 164 in other professions (e.g. administration).
Comparison between HC and GNH showed more favourable values for the first group for the most scales, e.g. lower quantitative and emotional demands and less work-privacy conflict, better possibilities for development etc. Compared to external values from the German COPSOQ database for general hospital care (N = 1.195) and the total mean across all professions, COPSOQ-total (N = 11.168), the results are again positive for HC workers on most of the scales concerning demands and social support. The only negative finding is the very low amount of social relations at work due to the obligation to work alone most of the time. Employees in GNH rate predictability, quality of leadership and feedback higher when compared to general hospital care and show some further favourable mean values compared to the COPSOQ mean value for all professions. A disadvantage for GNH is the high rating for job insecurity.
A supplementary subgroup analysis showed that the degree of negative evaluation of psychosocial factors concerning demands was related to the amount of working hours per week and the number of on-call duties.
Conclusions
Compared to employees in general hospital care and the COPSOQ overall mean value across all professions, geriatric care employees and especially home care workers evaluate their psychosocial working situation more positive for most aspects. However, this seems partly due to the very high proportion of part-time workers. Critical results for the two study groups are the relatively high job insecurity in nursing homes and the lack of social relations for the HCrs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-428
PMCID: PMC2916905  PMID: 20663137
9.  Bladder cancer among hairdressers: a meta-analysis 
Background
Occupational risks for bladder cancer in hairdressers by using hair products have been examined in many epidemiological studies. But owing to small sample sizes of the studies and the resulting lack of statistical power, the results of these studies have been inconsistent and significant associations have rarely been found.
Methods
We conducted a meta-analysis to determine summary risk ratios (SRRs) for the risk of bladder cancer among hairdressers. Studies were identified by a MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL search and by the reference lists of articles/relevant reviews. Statistical tests for publication bias and for heterogeneity as well as sensitivity analysis were applied. In addition, the study quality and the risk of bias were assessed using six criteria.
Results
42 studies were included and statistically significantly increased risks around 1.3–1.7 were found for all but one analysis. The SRR increased with duration of employment from 1.30 (95% CI 1.15 to 1.48) for ‘ever registered as hairdresser’ to 1.70 (95% CI 1.01 to 2.88) for ‘job held ≥10 years’. No difference was found between the risk for smoking-adjusted data (SRR 1.35, 95% CI 1.13 to 1.61) and no adjustment (SRR 1.33, 95% CI 1.18 to 1.50). Studies assessed as being of high quality (n=11) and of moderate quality (n=31) showed similar SRRs. There was no evidence of publication bias or heterogeneity in all analyses.
Conclusion
In summary, our results showed an increased and statistically significant risk for bladder cancer among hairdressers, in particular for hairdressers in jobs held ≥10 years. Residual confounding by smoking cannot be totally ruled out. Because of the long latency times of bladder cancer it remains an open question whether hairdressers working prior to 1980 and after 1980, when some aromatic amines were banned as hair dye ingredients, have the same risk for bladder cancer.
doi:10.1136/oem.2009.050195
PMCID: PMC2981018  PMID: 20447989
Urinary bladder neoplasms [MeSH]; occupational exposure; hairdresser; hair dyes; aromatic amines; epidemiology; occupational health practice; public health; cancer; urological
10.  Back disorders and lumbar load in nursing staff in geriatric care: a comparison of home-based care and nursing homes 
Background
Back pain is one of the most frequent complaints in the nursing profession. Thus, the 12-month prevalence of pain in the lumbar spine in nursing staff is as high as 76%. Only a few representative studies have assessed the prevalence rates of back pain and its risk factors among nursing staff in nursing homes in comparison to staff in home-based care facilities. The present study accordingly investigates the prevalence in the lumbar and cervical spine and determines the physical workload to lifting and caring in geriatric care.
Methods
1390 health care workers in nursing homes and home care participated in this cross sectional survey. The nursing staff members were examined by occupational physicians according to the principals of the multistep diagnosis of musculoskeletal disorders. Occupational exposure to daily care activities with patient transfers was measured by a standardised questionnaire. The lumbar load was calculated with the Mainz-Dortmund dose model. Information on ergonomic conditions were recorded from the management of the nursing homes. Comparisons of all outcome variables were made between both care settings.
Results
Complete documentation, including the findings from the occupational physicians and the questionnaire, was available for 41%. Staff in nursing homes had more often positive orthopaedic findings than staff in home care. At the same time the values calculated for lumbar load were found to be significant higher in staff in nursing homes than in home-based care: 45% vs. 6% were above the reference value. Nursing homes were well equipped with technical lifting aids, though their provision with assistive advices is unsatisfactory. Situation in home care seems worse, especially as the staff often has to get by without assistance.
Conclusions
Future interventions should focus on counteracting work-related lumbar load among staff in nursing homes. Equipment and training in handling of assistive devices should be improved especially for staff working in home care.
doi:10.1186/1745-6673-4-33
PMCID: PMC2801493  PMID: 20003284

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