Dental CPD Australia

Prevalence Of Occupational Health Hazards

Occupational health includes all aspects of safety and health in the working environment, with a dominant focus on preventing the occurrence of health hazards. Risk factors at the workplace such as those leading to cancers, musculoskeletal diseases, respiratory diseases, hearing loss, circulatory diseases, stress related disorder, general accidents and communicable diseases as well as others, are only some of which determine the physical health of dental workers. Employment and working conditions would also fall under the category of occupational health in the formal or informal economy, as they embrace important determinants that may also encourage health failure such as working hours, workplace policies concerning maternity leave, salary, protection provisions and health promotion, among others.

Occupational health hazards are not limited to exposure to dangers that affect the physical health, but also, and just as equally important, are the mental and social health of a person. These are aspects that hold health factors inherent in the working environment, all needing equally ample attention, consideration, study and eventually reform.

Worldly statistics

While there has yet been an in-depth study on occupational health hazards in dentistry that is representative of all nations around the world, sample populations from various locations would more or less determine the dominant concerns that continuously push for further study.

A previous survey from Norway shows that public health dentists reported occupational hazards such as dermatoses (40%), musculoskeletal pain (3%) and eye, respiratory and systemic complaints (13%). Flemish dentists reported that in Belgium, similar hazards are experienced, differing only in frequency, such as diminished sensation at the fingers (6%), infections (9%), auditory disorders (20%), allergies (23%), vision complications (52%) and lower back pains (54%). In Sydney, Australia, latex allergy (9%) and glove dermatitis (22%) were reported. Also in Australia is the prevalence of musculoskeletal problems, garnering in a 64% population reporting backache, as well as 58% consistent occurrence of headaches. Percutaneous injuries, or cuts sustained during practice, make up more than 50% of hazards reported in Bristol.

Norwegian dentists also report similar concerns and frequency. Lithuanian dentists reported surprisingly high figure of dentists suffering from back pain (91%), and 57.1% of that population are those that reported chronic back pain. Other concerns by Lithuanian dentists included headache (88.7%) with one out of five gradually developing into chronic headache (23.4%), general musculoskeletal complaints (86.5%) of which 39% considered their symptoms as chronic, wrist problems such as pain and carpal tunnel syndrome (83.1%) of which 30.4% reported chronic hand problems, and chest pain (53.8%) of which 10% was considered chronic.

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