Factors Associated With Non-compliance of Asbestos Occupational Standards in Brake Repair Workers

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Abstract

Asbestos and non-asbestos containing brake products are currently used in low- and middle-income countries like Colombia. Because brake products are distributed detached from their supports, they require manipulation before installation, which release fibers and expose workers. Previous studies of our research group have documented exposures in excess of the widely accepted 0.1 f/cm3 exposure guideline. The aim of this study is to identify factors associated with non-compliance of the 8-h time weighted average (TWA) 0.1 f/cm3 asbestos occupational limit among brake mechanics (i.e. riveters). Eighteen brake repair shops (BRS) located in Bogotá (Colombia) were sampled during 3 to 6 consecutive days for the entire work-shift. Personal and short-term personal samples were collected following NIOSH methods 7400 and 7402. Longitudinal based logistic regression models were used to determine the association between the odds of exceeding the 8-h TWA 0.1 f/cm3 asbestos occupational limit and variables such as type of tasks performed by workers, workload (number of products manipulated daily), years of experience as riveters, and shop characteristics. These models can be used to estimate the odds of being currently or historically overexposed when sampling data do not exist. Since the information required to run the models can vary for both retrospective and current asbestos occupational exposure studies, three models were constructed with different information requirements. The first model evaluated the association between the odds of non-compliance with variables related to the workload, the second model evaluated the association between the odds of non-compliance with variables related to the manipulation tasks, and the third model evaluated the association between the odds of non-compliance with variables related with both the type of tasks performed by workers and the workload. Variables associated with the odds of non-compliance included conducting at least one manipulation activity with beveling and grinding of asbestos and non-asbestos containing brake products during the work shift, the location of the worker in the shop during non-manipulation activities, cleaning activities of the manipulation area, the years of experience working as riveters, and the number of asbestos and non-asbestos containing brake products manipulated daily. These models could be useful for current and retrospective occupational studies, in determining the odds of non-compliance of the asbestos occupational limit among brake mechanics.

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