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Barbers face occupation health risks

Barbers and hairdressers beware. A cross sectional study done in Izmir ,Turkey has shown that they may suffer from occupational health risks like allergy and musculoskeletal discomfort.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2009 12:09 IST
Satyen Mohapatra

Barbers and hairdressers beware. A cross sectional study done in Izmir ,Turkey has shown that they may suffer from occupational health risks like allergy and musculoskeletal discomfort.

The study reported in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine was carried out on 1284 individuals working as barbers or coiffeurs in 300 workplaces.

Over half of them (59.9 per cent) were males and 40.8 per cent had elementary or lower education levels. The question related to chemical usage status was answered only by 391 indiviudals.

The use of hair colorings and hair spray were most common, but daily mean usage was lower. On the other hand the percentage of employees who used shampoos was not high although mean usage was higher.

When the respondents were asked to identify any discomfort in the past 12 months, 35 per cent stated that they had at least one allergic complaint.

Nearly 32 per cent in the groups complained of musculoskeletal discomfort, among these, back pain (27.4 per cent) and lumbago (25.5 per cent) were most frequent.

They also suffered other problems like: headaches (5.8 per cent) varicosis (15.5 per cent) and fungal infection (1.1 per cent).

Approximately half of those having an allergic history could specify the causes of the allergy - the vast majority consisted of cosmetics and dust allergies..

In older individuals and in women the frequency of allergic complaints was found to be significantly higher. Allergic complaints were found to be infrequent only in those performing manicures,pedicures and beauty care.

The study said the daily use of consmetics containing chemicals was found higher and it was found that workers did not use measures that would reduce their exposure to these chemicals.

General window ventilation was used for the ventilation of these workplaces and local ventilation did not exist in any of the salons.

The rate of exposure could be reduced by improving ventilation. The complaints due to load and coercion on the shoulders ,wrists and other joints should be reduced by ergonomic hand devices.

Hair dressers and barbers are mostly at an increased risk of developing cutaneous,respiratory tract, musculoskeleton system and blood borne diseases ,hence, occupational measures should be implemented to lower these risks, the study added.

The same issue of IJOEM also reports another study done on 100 photographers in Iran to show that 37 per cent of them suffered from skin disease and disorders, 24 per cent contact dermatitis, (due to acids, alkalis), two per cent leukoderma (due to hydroquinone) and three per cent nail hyper pigmentation.

Less than half these subjects (43 per cent) were found to be working with non mechanized printers whereas the other 57 per cent worked with computerized printers.

Employees with manual printers had a statistically meaningful increase in skin diseases compared with subjects who were working with computerized printers..

Forty one per cent of these subjects did not use gloves an were found to have statically significant increased incidence of skin disease compared with those who used gloves.