Research

Chronic stress 40 per cent higher in working mothers
Biological markers for chronic stress are 40 per cent higher in women bringing up two children while working full-time, new research has found. Working from home and flexitime have no effect on their level of chronic stress – only putting in fewer hours at work helps, according to the study published in the British Sociological Association journal Sociology. Shorter hours led to reductions in chronic stress markers for both men and women, the study found.

Researchers from the universities of Manchester and Essex analysed data on 6,025 participants in the UK Household Longitudinal Survey, which collects information on working life and readings of measures of stress response. They found that the overall level of 11 biomarkers related to chronic stress, including stress related hormones and blood pressure, was 40 per cent higher if women were working full-time while bringing up two children than it was among women working full-time with no children. Women working full-time and bringing up one child had 18 per cent higher level. They also found that women with two children who worked reduced hours through part-time work, job share and term-time flexible working arrangements had chronic stress levels 37 per cent lower than those working in jobs where flexible work was not available. Those working flexitime or working from home, with no overall reduction in working hours, had no reduction in chronic stress. The researchers found that men's chronic stress markers were also lower if they worked reduced hours, and the effect was about the same as for women. 
Read more: Essex University ISER news release. The Independent. Source: Risks 883

Australian hearing loss data is alarming
A significant proportion of Australian workers are exposed to noise levels above regulated occupational limits, and nearly all of those are at risk of further hearing loss through exposure to chemicals.

Australian researchers led by Curtin University School of Public Health's Kate Lewkowski surveyed nearly 5,000 workers. They found that four out of five of the 12 per cent of workers exposed to full shift noise over the 85 decibel exposure limit were also exposed to at least one ototoxic chemical (chemicals toxic to the ear) in their workplace, such as toluene, p-xylene, ethylbenzene, n-hexane, styrene and carbon monoxide.

Ototoxic chemicals exacerbate hearing loss when co-exposure with noise occurs. The researchers say their findings show immediate action needs to be taken to reduce these exposures, especially in the automotive, construction and machine operations industries where co-exposure is common.

"Despite regulations recommending engineering or administration controls to reduce workplace noise, high levels of noise exist in many Australian workplaces," the researchers say.  "The high prevalence of co-exposures to noise and ototoxic chemicals represents an additional risk for workers."

According to the researchers, a previous study found a 2.1-fold higher risk of hearing loss among workers exposed to noise and organic solvents than those exposed to noise only. While some regulators recognise the auditory risks posed by some chemicals, the researchers said, this is not reflected in most current workplace limits, likely because there are few human studies that examine the dose-response relationship.
Read more: Kate Lewkowski, et al, Australia, Exposure to noise and ototoxic chemicals in the Australian workforce. [Abstract] Occupational and Environmental Medicine, online first January 2019, doi: 10.1136/oemed-2018-10547 Source: OHSAlert

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