Occupational Asthma Reference

Bradshaw L, Harris-Roberts J, Bowen J, Rahman S, Fishwick D, Self-reported work-related symptoms in hairdressers, Occup Med, 2011;61:328-334,

Keywords: hairdresser, UK, questionnaire

Known Authors

Joanne Harris-Roberts (nee Elms), HSL, Buxton, UK Joanne Harris-Roberts (nee Elms)

David Fishwick, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK David Fishwick

Lisa Bradshaw, Health and Safety Laboratories Lisa Bradshaw

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Detailed studies of current symptoms reported by hairdressers and of the training received to reduce the health risks associated with this work are uncommon.

To document current levels of self-reported health problems in hairdressers, compared to non-hairdressing controls.

An interviewer-led questionnaire recording demographic information, work history, health training levels and the presence of self-reported respiratory, skin, musculoskeletal and non-specific symptoms was administered.

In total, 147 hairdressers, 86% of whom were female (median age 27 years) and 67 non-hairdressing controls, all female (median age 38 years) were recruited. Following adjustment for age, smoking and years worked, hairdressers reported significantly higher levels of musculoskeletal problems, including work-related shoulder pain (OR 11.6, 95% CI 2.4–55.4), work-related wrist and hand pain (2.8, 1.1–7.6), work-related upper back pain (3.8, 1.0–14.9), work-related lower back pain (4.9, 1.5–15.9) and work-related leg/foot pain (31.0, 3.8–267.4). The frequency of self-reported asthma was similar in both groups (hairdressers 16%, controls 17%) as was chest tightness and wheeze. Work-related cough was significantly more frequently reported in hairdressers than in controls (13.2, 1.3–131.5). While hairdresser training was commonplace, such training did not always appear to have resulted in awareness of potential workplace health risks.

This study identified frequently reported musculoskeletal, skin and respiratory symptoms in hairdressers. This points to a need to develop training that not only deals with risk assessment but also informs hairdressers about the health risks of their work.

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