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Prioritizing hygiene at work protects companies and their employees

Prioritizing hygiene at work protects companies and their employees


Every year more than 2.3 million people die due to occupational accidents and diseases.




The workplace is one of the main scenarios of exposure to carcinogens. According to a study by the National Cancer Institute (INCA), published in 2018, workplaces contain high levels of chemical, physical and biological agents that can cause various types of cancer.

Although science has already demonstrated this relationship, the number of occupational cancer reports is still low. Estimates indicate that 10.8% of cancer cases in men and 2.2% in women are related to factors present in the work environment.

In addition to cancer, other diseases such as asthma, dermatosis, pulmonary anthracnose and hearing loss can also have occupational origins, constituting “silent epidemics” that disable and kill workers on a daily basis, as Berenice IF Goelzer, of the Brazilian Association of Occupational Hygiene (ABHO), points out. The importance of Occupational Hygiene is, therefore, crucial from the anticipation phase to the analysis of biological indicators.

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 2.3 million people die each year from occupational injuries and diseases. Although approximately 160 million new cases of occupational diseases occur each year, the attention paid to these problems by international agencies, governments, the media, employers and workers is not equal to their seriousness and their social and economic impact.

Adequate medical care

For Thiago Avelino, occupational safety technician and CEO of SafetyTechMany of these diseases develop due to lack of adequate medical care, misdiagnosis, or long latency periods.

“In Latin America, for example, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) estimates that only 5% of actual cases of occupational diseases are reported. Preventive strategies can avoid most of these diseases, but their application depends on governments, companies and workers,” he reports.

The neglect of occupational risks is exacerbated by the lack of attention to silent damage and long periods of exposure. “Professionals from the Specialized Service for Occupational Health and Safety (SESMT) often focus on obvious risks such as working at heights or using machinery, ignoring factors such as noise, vibrations and exposure to dust and organic vapours,” he laments.

The expert believes that many companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, do not have coherent environmental prevention programs.

“Essential steps, such as anticipation and recognition, are often lacking or poorly executed. Monitoring and control measures also lack a solid technical basis. Crucial programs such as the Hearing Conservation Program (PCA) and the Respiratory Protection Program (PPR) are often neglected, resulting in inefficiency in controlling harmful agents,” he emphasizes.

Lack of official guidelines

Another challenge is the lack of official guidelines for the training of occupational hygiene professionals.

“Although this area was recognized as a professional science in Brazil in 2014, there is no legal requirement that these activities be carried out by qualified professional hygienists,” she reveals.

Avelino believes that promoting Hygiene at Work is essential to ensure a safer and healthier working environment.

“Implementing appropriate measures can not only protect workers from harmful agents, but also reduce the social impact of occupational diseases, ease the pressure on the health system and social security system, ensuring a better quality of life for workers and their families,” he concludes.

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Source: Terra

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