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Health and Safety Protection for Chemical Industry Employees in a Rotating Shift System: Program Design and Acute Injury and Illness Experience at Work

Ott, M Gerald PhD; Oberlinner, Christoph MD; Lang, Stefan MD; Hoffmann, Gerhard MD; Nasterlack, Michael MD; Pluto, Rolf-Peter MD; Trauth, Bernd MD; Messerer, Peter MS; Zober, Andreas MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: February 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 2 - pp 221-231
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e318192bd0f
Original Articles

Objectives: To describe a comprehensive health protection program for rotating shift employees and evaluate the program effectiveness in injury and illness prevention.

Methods: For 14,128 shift and 17,218 day wage employees, occupational medical records were linked to job assignment records and studied over an 11-year period.

Results: Between 1995 and 2005, initiatives directed to shift employees contributed to their 59% and 100% greater participation in medical examinations and health seminar days, respectively, compared to day wage employees. Injury rates declined over time and with increasing employee age and were not elevated among rotating shift compared to day wage employees. Clinic visit rates for acute illnesses were generally higher for day than shift work employees.

Conclusion: Coupling of active medical monitoring with additional health and safety initiatives appears to mitigate the expected adverse physiological and psychosocial stresses of shift work.

From the Occupational Medical and Health Protection Department (Dr Oberlinner, Dr Lang, Dr Hoffmann, Dr Nasterlack, Dr Pluto, Dr Trauth, Dr Messerer, Dr Zober), BASF Societas Europaea, Ludwigshafen, Germany; and Corporate Medical Department (Dr Ott), BASF Corporation, Florham Park, NJ.

Dr Oberlinner contributed equally for the article.

Address correspondence to: Christoph Oberlinner, MD, Occupational Medical and Health Protection Department, BASF SE, D-67056 Ludwigshafen, Germany; E-mail: christoph.oberlinner@basf.com.

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine