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1.  Two Legionnaires' disease cases associated with industrial waste water treatment plants: a case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:343.
Finnish and Swedish waste water systems used by the forest industry were found to be exceptionally heavily contaminated with legionellae in 2005.
Case presentation
We report two cases of severe pneumonia in employees working at two separate mills in Finland in 2006. Legionella serological and urinary antigen tests were used to diagnose Legionnaires' disease in the symptomatic employees, who had worked at, or close to, waste water treatment plants. Since the findings indicated a Legionella infection, the waste water and home water systems were studied in more detail. The antibody response and Legionella urinary antigen finding of Case A indicated that the infection had been caused by Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1. Case A had been exposed to legionellae while installing a pump into a post-clarification basin at the waste water treatment plant of mill A. Both the water and sludge in the basin contained high concentrations of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 1, in addition to serogroups 3 and 13. Case B was working 200 meters downwind from a waste water treatment plant, which had an active sludge basin and cooling towers. The antibody response indicated that his disease was due to Legionella pneumophila serogroup 2. The cooling tower was the only site at the waste water treatment plant yielding that serogroup, though water in the active sludge basin yielded abundant growth of Legionella pneumophila serogroup 5 and Legionella rubrilucens. Both workers recovered from the disease.
These are the first reported cases of Legionnaires' disease in Finland associated with industrial waste water systems.
PMCID: PMC3014939  PMID: 21126333
2.  Effectiveness of early part-time sick leave in musculoskeletal disorders 
The importance of staying active instead of bed rest has been acknowledged in the management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This emphasizes the potential benefits of adjusting work to fit the employee's remaining work ability. Despite part-time sick leave being an official option in many countries, its effectiveness has not been studied yet. We have designed a randomized controlled study to assess the health effects of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-day sick leave. Our hypothesis is that if work time is temporarily reduced and work load adjusted at the early stages of disability, employees with MSDs will have less disability days and faster return to regular work duties than employees on a conventional sick leave.
The study population will consist of 600 employees, who seek medical advice from an occupational physician due to musculoskeletal pain. The inclusion requires that they have not been on a sick leave for longer than 14 days prior to the visit. Based on the physician's judgement, the severity of the symptoms must indicate a need for conventional sick leave, but the employee is considered to be able to work part-time without any additional risk. Half of the employees are randomly allocated to part-time sick leave group and their work time is reduced by 40–60%, whereas in the control group work load is totally eliminated with conventional sick leave. The main outcomes are the number of days from the initial visit to return to regular work activities, and the total number of sick leave days during 12 and 24 months of follow-up. The costs and benefits as well as the feasibility of early part-time sick leave will also be evaluated.
This is the first randomised trial to our knowledge on the effectiveness of early part-time sick leave compared to conventional full-time sick leave in the management of MSDs. The data collection continues until 2011, but preliminary results on the feasibility of part-time sick leave will be available already in 2008. The increased knowledge will assist in better decision making process regarding the management of disability related to MSDs.
Trial Registration
International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Register, register number ISRCTN30911719
PMCID: PMC2267790  PMID: 18294405
3.  Effect of training and lifting equipment for preventing back pain in lifting and handling: systematic review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2008;336(7641):429-431.
Objectives To determine whether advice and training on working techniques and lifting equipment prevent back pain in jobs that involve heavy lifting.
Data sources Medline, Embase, CENTRAL, Cochrane Back Group’s specialised register, CINAHL, Nioshtic, CISdoc, Science Citation Index, and PsychLIT were searched up to September-November 2005.
Review methods The primary search focused on randomised controlled trials and the secondary search on cohort studies with a concurrent control group. Interventions aimed to modify techniques for lifting and handling heavy objects or patients and including measurements for back pain, consequent disability, or sick leave as the main outcome were considered for the review. Two authors independently assessed eligibility of the studies and methodological quality of those included. For data synthesis, we summarised the results of studies comparing similar interventions. We used odds ratios and effect sizes to combine the results in a meta-analysis. Finally, we compared the conclusions of the primary and secondary analyses.
Results Six randomised trials and five cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. Two randomised trials and all cohort studies were labelled as high quality. Eight studies looked at lifting and moving patients, and three studies were conducted among baggage handlers or postal workers. Those in control groups received no intervention or minimal training, physical exercise, or use of back belts. None of the comparisons in randomised trials (17 720 participants) yielded significant differences. In the secondary analysis, none of the cohort studies (772 participants) had significant results, which supports the results of the randomised trials.
Conclusions There is no evidence to support use of advice or training in working techniques with or without lifting equipment for preventing back pain or consequent disability. The findings challenge current widespread practice of advising workers on correct lifting technique.
PMCID: PMC2249682  PMID: 18244957
4.  Preventing Sickness Absence With Career Management Intervention 
This study examined whether a group intervention focusing on building up preparedness for career management can prevent future sickness absence.
Register-based data on the number of sickness absence days and sickness absence episodes were examined as outcomes of the intervention among 684 employees in 17 organizations in a randomized controlled trial. Sickness absence data were collected covering a period from 1 year before (baseline) to approximately 2 years after the intervention (follow-up). The data were analyzed using zero-inflated negative binomial models.
After controlling for baseline absence, age, gender, and organization, the intervention was effective in decreasing the number of longer sickness absences (lasting longer than > 2 weeks), but no other significant effects were found.
These findings point out that it is feasible to use a career management intervention to prevent future sickness absence in work organizations.
PMCID: PMC5172807  PMID: 27930479
5.  Occupational Physicians’ Reasoning about Recommending Early Return to Work with Work Modifications 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(7):e0158588.
Previous research indicates that work modifications can effectively enhance return to work (RTW) at an early stage of work disability. We aimed to examine how occupational physicians (OPs) reason about recommending early return to work (RTW) with work modifications. Pre-defined propositions regarding the use of work modifications in promoting early RTW were discussed in four focus groups with altogether 11 Finnish OPs. Discussions were audio recorded, and the transcribed data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Five different rationales for supporting early RTW were identified: to manage medical conditions, to enhance employee well-being, to help workplace stakeholders, to reduce costs to society, and to enhance OP’s own professional fulfillment. However, OPs identified situations and conditions in which early RTW may not be suitable. In addition, there were differences between the OPs in the interpretation of the rationales, suggesting variation in clinical practice. In conclusion, encouraging early RTW with work modifications was perceived by OPs as a meaningful task and, to a large extent, beneficial for employees and several stakeholders. However, this practice was not accepted without consideration to the RTW situation and context. If early RTW and work modifications are to be promoted, OPs should be offered education that addresses their views regarding this practice.
PMCID: PMC4930161  PMID: 27367908
6.  Efficacy of temporary work modifications on disability related to musculoskeletal pain or depressive symptoms—study protocol for a controlled trial 
BMJ Open  2015;5(5):e008300.
Previous research suggests that work with a suitable workload may promote health and work retention in people with disability. This study will examine whether temporary work modifications at the early stage of work disability are effective in enhancing return to work (RTW) or staying at work among workers with musculoskeletal or depressive symptoms.
Methods and analysis
A single-centre controlled trial with modified stepped wedge design will be carried out in eight enterprises and their occupational health services (OHSs) in nine cities in Finland. Patients seeking medical advice due to musculoskeletal pain (≥4 on a scale from 0–10) or depressive symptoms (≥1 positive response to 2 screening questions) and fulfilling other inclusion criteria are eligible. The study involves an educational intervention among occupational physicians to enhance the initiation of work modifications. Primary outcomes are sustained RTW (≥4 weeks at work without a new sickness absence (SA)) and the total number of SA days during a 12-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes are intensity of musculoskeletal pain (scale 0–10), pain interference with work or sleep (scale 0–10) and severity of depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-9), inquired via online questionnaires at baseline and 3, 6, 9 and 12 months after recruitment. Information on SA days will be collected from the medical records of the OHSs over 12 months, before and after recruitment.
The findings will give new information about the possibilities of training physicians to initiate work modifications and their effects on RTW in employees with work disability due to musculoskeletal pain or depressive symptoms.
Ethics and dissemination
The Coordinating Ethics Committee of Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa has granted approval for this study. The results will be published in peer-reviewed journals.
Trial registration number
PMCID: PMC4442237  PMID: 25986643
EPIDEMIOLOGY; MENTAL HEALTH; Job accommodation; Return to work

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