Chemical industry workers resigned to risks: study

March 1, 2011

Belgium – Despite being highly concerned about their safety, chemical workers accept the risks of working with chemical products as “part of the job,” according to research from the Universities of Antwerp, Liège and Ghent.

The study involved seven focus groups made up of five to 10 participants. Results indicated chemical workers tend to gather information from informal sources and are concerned about long-term health consequences of chemical exposure, but are resigned to the risks.

Workers also cited communication problems and lack of trust in their health advisers. Many workers believed their knowledge of working conditions and suggestions for improving safety were not taken into account, according to the study.

The authors recommended that training programs for health advisers address worker perceptions, the usefulness of a participatory approach, and communication and education skills. They also said chemical risk training should include relevant and easily understood toxicological information from the worker’s perspective.

The study appeared in the February issue of the journal Risk Analysis.