Programme

Professor Jeroen Douwes
Massey University, Wellington
Interventions to reduce occupational disease (IROD)
$4,999,989
60 months

Lay summary

Occupational disease is largely preventable through the reduction of causal exposures. However, interventions to reduce the burden of work-related disease – estimated at 600-900 deaths and 30,000 new cases of work-related disease p.a., and an annual cost of $2.4 billion in New Zealand alone – remain rare. We propose three comprehensive intervention studies in solvent (vehicle collision-repair), silica (construction), and pesticides (agriculture) exposed workers. These exposures can cause respiratory conditions, cancer and neurotoxicity. We will conduct three cluster randomised controlled trials comparing pre/post intervention exposure levels (primary outcome); biomarkers in serum, urine and the airways; and reversible respiratory and neuropsychological effects (secondary outcomes), with controls. The intervention will entail technical control measures, improved use of protective equipment, and behavioural changes, and be guided by extensive airborne and dermal exposure assessment. This will provide the scientific evidence to successfully reduce common harmful exposures and related ill health in high-risk industries in New Zealand.

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