The use of personal protective equipment during common industrial hog operation work activities and acute lung function changes in a prospective worker cohort, North Carolina, USA

Vanessa R. Coffman, Devon J. Hall, Nora Pisanic, Maya Nadimpalli, Meredith McCormack, Marie Diener-West, Meghan F. Davis, Christopher D. Heaney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: As occupational activities related to acute industrial hog operation (IHO) worker lung function are not well defined, we aimed to identify IHO work activities associated with diminished respiratory function and the effectiveness, if any, of personal protective equipment (PPE) on IHOs. Methods: From 2014-2015, 103 IHO workers were enrolled and followed for 16 weeks. At each bi-weekly visit, lung function measurements were collected via spirometry and work activities and PPE use were self-reported via questionnaire. Generalized linear and linear fixed-effects models were fitted to cross-sectional and longitudinal data. Results: At baseline, increasing years worked on an IHO were associated with diminished lung function, but other activities were less consistent in direction and magnitude. In longitudinal models, only reports of working in feeding/finisher barns, showed a consistent association. However, a -0.3 L (95% confidence interval: -0.6, -0.04) difference in FEV1 was estimated when workers wore PPE consistently versus those weeks they did not. In post-hoc analyses, we found that coveralls and facemasks were worn less consistently when workers experienced worse barn conditions and had more contact with pigs, but coveralls were worn more consistently as cleaning activities increased. Conclusions: Similar to past studies, baseline estimates were likely obscured by healthy worker bias. Also making it challenging to disentangle the effect of work activities on lung function was the discovery that IHO workers used PPE differently according to work task. These data suggest that interventions may be targeted toward improving barn conditions so that workers can consistently utilize IHO-provided PPE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 4 2020

Keywords

  • Animal workers
  • Indoor air
  • Occupational health practice
  • PPE
  • Respiratory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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