Journal Article

The health of the workers in a rapidly developing country: effects of occupational exposure to noise and heat

J. Gomes, O. Lloyd and N. Norman

in Occupational Medicine

Published on behalf of Society of Occupational Medicine

Volume 52, issue 3, pages 121-128
Published in print May 2002 | ISSN: 0962-7480
Published online May 2002 | e-ISSN: 1471-8405 | DOI:
The health of the workers in a rapidly developing country: effects of occupational exposure to noise and heat

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Occupational hygiene and safety have not been high on the agenda of industrial management in developing countries for a variety of reasons. This cross‐sectional study was undertaken to assess the exposure to noise and heat, and to study the level of occupational hygiene practiced, at a foundry in a rapidly developing country (Dubai, United Arab Emirates). Audiometry, muscle cramps and visual acuity were measured in workers at a foundry and compared with the results from workers at a soft‐drink bottling plant. Thermal stress, relative humidity, ventilation, illumination and noise levels were measured at different work units at the foundry and at the soft‐drink bottling factory. Thermal stress index was high while relative humidity and ventilation were low at the foundry compared with the bottling plant. Noise levels were also high at the foundry, exceeding 90 dB at almost all work units except the fabrication workshop. Mild or moderate visual defects were observed among 31% of foundry workers, compared with 19% of the bottling plant workers.Muscle cramps were reported by 30% of all workers at the foundry, compared with 5% at the bottling plant. Visual disability was the highest among furnace operators and fabricators. Mean hearing disability was 8.69 ± 1.08% among foundry workers, compared with 4.56 ± 0.82% among bottling plant workers. The high thermal stress, noise levels and exposure to non‐ionizing radiations at the foundry might have contributed to the higher frequency of muscle cramps and the greater hearing and visual disabilities, respectively, among these workers. Non‐use of personal protective equipment and poor occupational hygiene and safety measures were also seen to affect eye and ear health adversely among the workers at the foundry.

Keywords: Foundry; hearing disability; muscle cramps; noise; thermal stress; ventilation; visual disability

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Occupational Medicine

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