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Quantification of wet-work exposure in nurses using a newly developed wet-work exposure monitor

Visser M, Behroozy A, Verberk M, Semple S & Kezic S (2011) Quantification of wet-work exposure in nurses using a newly developed wet-work exposure monitor. Annals of Occupational Hygiene, 55 (7), pp. 810-816.

Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) is an important work-related disease. A major cause of OCD is 'wet work': frequent contact of the skin with water, soap, detergents, or occlusive gloves. The German guidance TRGS 401 recommends that the duration of wet work (including use of occlusive gloves) should not exceed 2 h day -1 and also the frequency of hand washing or hand disinfection should be taken into account. This highlights the need for a reliable method to assess duration and frequency of wet work. Recently, a wet-work sampler has been developed by the University of Aberdeen. The sampler uses the temperature difference (ΔT) generated by evaporative cooling between two sensors: one sensor on the skin and a second one placed 2 mm above the skin. We have evaluated the use of this sampler in a healthcare setting, using direct observation as reference. Twenty-six nurses wore the sampler on the volar side of the middle finger for ∼2 h during their regular daily tasks, while being observed by a researcher. Sampler results were evaluated using various threshold values for ΔT to identify wet events of the hands. The optimal ΔT to discern wet and dry skin differed considerably between individual nurses. Individual results yielded a median sensitivity of 78 and 62% and a median specificity of 79 and 68% for indicating wet skin and glove use, respectively. Overall, the sampler was moderately accurate for identifying wetness of the skin and less accurate for discerning glove use. In conclusion, agreement between observed wet work and device-reported wet events in healthcare settings was not high and further adaptations and developments may be required.

exposure assessment; irritant contact dermatitis; nurses; wet work

Annals of Occupational Hygiene: Volume 55, Issue 7

Author(s)Visser, Maaike; Behroozy, Ali; Verberk, Maarten; Semple, Sean; Kezic, Sanja
FundersUniversity of Aberdeen
Publication date31/08/2011
Publication date online30/06/2011
Date accepted by journal28/04/2011
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