Introduction: We evaluated the effect on exposure of an intervention program, which focussed on risk education and providing information on good work practices. This intervention program was enrolled as part of a Dutch covenant in the flour processing industry (industrial bakeries, flour mills, ingredient producers).
Methods: Data from several measurement surveys collected pre- and post-intervention were used to evaluate changes in exposure over time. All datasets contained personal measurements analysed for flour dust and fungal α-amylase contents and contextual information was available on process characteristics, work practice, and use of control measures.
Results: Changes in exposure over time varied substantially between sectors and jobs. For bakeries a modest downward annual trend of -2% was found for flour dust and -8% for amylase. For flour mills the annual trend for flour dust was -12%, no significant trend was observed for amylase. For ingredient producers results were generally non significant but indicated a reduction in flour dust exposure and increase in fungal α-amylase exposure. Modest increase in use of control measures and proper work practices were reported in most sectors, especially the use of LEV and decreased use of compressed air.
Conclusions: The magnitude of the observed reductions in exposure levels indicate that the sector-wide intervention strategy implemented during the covenant period had a limited overall effect. This indicates that a more rigorous approach is needed to substantially decrease the exposure levels to flour dust and related allergens and respectively the prevalence of associated occupational diseases.
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