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Chemical Control Measures for Dermal Exposure in Australian Workplaces

MacFarlane, Ewan PhD; Smith, Peter PhD; Keegel, Tessa PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: November 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 11 - p 1345–1349
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3182a2a5c5
Original Articles

Objective: To investigate the relationships between occupational, workplace, and demographic factors and the provision of multilevel exposure protection systems.

Methods: Respondents reporting dermal chemical exposure at work were asked about protective measures provided to them in the workplace, which we classified as personal protection or awareness measures. An ordered logistic model was used to investigate the odds of workers reporting that both, either or neither, types of exposure control measures were provided in their workplaces.

Results: Larger workplace size and permanent and fixed-term employment were associated with exposure protection systems incorporating both hazard awareness and personal protective measures.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that employment in small workplaces, nonpermanent and self-employed workers may be important intervention targets for improving workers’ exposure protection. What this paper adds:

  • Chemical exposures in workplaces are an important occupational health and safety problem; however, there is little published information available about the provision of basic exposure controls to workers with dermal chemical exposures across industrial sectors.
  • Using data from a large community-based survey, we found that workers in small workplaces and workers with less secure employment arrangements were more likely than others to report less comprehensive exposure control mitigation strategies.
  • Small workplaces, temporary and casual workers, and industrial sectors in which these employment situations are common are likely to be worthwhile targets for efforts to improve exposure management systems for workers with dermal exposure to chemicals.

From the Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University (Dr MacFarlane and Dr Smith and Dr Keegel), The Institute of Work and Health & Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada (Dr Smith), and McCaughy Centre, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne (Dr Keegel), Australia.

Address correspondence to: Ewan MacFarlane, PhD, Monash Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health, Department of Epidemiology and preventive Medicine, Monash University, The Alfred Hospital, Commercial Rd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3004 (

The analyses presented in this article are based on analyses undertaken under funding from Safe Work Australia (Commonwealth of Australia).

Dr MacFarlane was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Capacity Building grant, Dr Smith was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research award, and Dr Keegel was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Public Health Training fellowship. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine