Cutaneous and respiratory symptoms among professional cleaners

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Abstract

Background

Occupational dermatitis is very common and has a large economic impact. Cleaners are at an increased risk for both work-related cutaneous and respiratory symptoms.

Aims

To compare the prevalence of occupational cutaneous symptoms among professional indoor cleaners to other building workers (OBW) and to determine associations with exposures and with respiratory symptoms among cleaners.

Methods

A questionnaire completed by indoor professional cleaners and OBW to compare rash and respiratory symptoms between these groups examined workplace factors such as training, protective equipment and work tasks.

Results

In total, 549 of the 1396 professional cleaners (39%) and 593 of the 1271 OBW (47%) completed questionnaires. The prevalence of rash was significantly higher in the cleaners compared to the OBW. For male cleaners, 21% (86/413) had a rash in the past 12 months compared to only 11% (13/115) of OBW (P < 0.05). The rashes experienced by the cleaners were more likely to be on their hands and worse at work. Cleaners washed their hands significantly more often than OBW. Cleaners with a rash were less likely to have received workplace training regarding their skin and were more likely to find the safety training hard to understand. Cleaners with a rash within the past year were significantly more likely to have work-related asthma symptoms than cleaners without a rash (P < 0.001).

Conclusions

This study demonstrates a strong link between work-related symptoms of asthma and dermatitis among cleaners. Effective preventive measures, such as the use of protective skin and respiratory equipment, should be emphasized.

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