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Employment status and use of respiratory protection among metalworkers, solderers and welders
  1. Maria C Mirabelli1,
  2. Jan-Paul Zock1,
  3. Estel Plana1,
  4. Geza Benke2,
  5. Hans Kromhout3,
  6. Dan Norbäck4,
  7. Mario Olivieri5,
  8. Katja Radon6,
  9. Simona Villani7,
  10. Manolis Kogevinas1,8
  1. 1Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Municipal Institute of Medical Research, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Environmental Epidemiology Division, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Medical Sciences, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University and University Hospital, Sweden
  5. 5Unit of Occupational Medicine, University of Verona, Italy
  6. 6Unit for Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology & NetTeaching, Institute for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany
  7. 7Section of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences, University of Pavia, Italy
  8. 8Department of Social Medicine, Medical School, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M C Mirabelli
 Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Instituto Municipal de Investigación Médica, c/Dr Aiguader, 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain; mmirabelli{at}


Objectives: Reported associations of self-employment with occupational injury and cerebrovascular disease suggest that worker safety and health precautions may vary by occupational status. The authors assessed the extent to which use of respiratory protection and ventilation equipment is associated with self-employed versus employee status among adults in an international study.

Methods: The European Community Respiratory Health Survey II (ECRHS II) is a follow-up study conducted in a population-based random sample of adult ECRHS I participants. Men and women enrolled in the ECRHS II completed interviewer-administered questionnaires to provide information about their occupational status and job history during the 9-year ECRHS follow-up period. Respondents in selected occupational groups completed supplemental questionnaires about their jobs and use of respiratory protection and ventilation equipment on-the-job. The authors assessed self-reported use of respiratory and ventilation equipment among 72 self-employed and 371 employed adults in metalworking, soldering and welding occupations.

Results: Local exhaust ventilation (fixed extraction: OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.17 to 0.80; mobile extraction: OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.09 to 0.60; on-tool extraction: OR 0.39, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.88) was reported less frequently among self-employed respondents than among employed respondents. The magnitude of the negative association between self-employment status and any of the three types of local exhaust ventilation was not attenuated by adjustment for duration of work per day or week or asthma and/or wheezing symptoms. Respiratory protection was not associated with employment status in these data.

Conclusions: More limited use of local exhaust ventilation among self-employed workers compared to employees suggests the need to promote occupational safety among self-employed workers.

  • ECRHS, European Community Respiratory Health Survey

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  • Published Online First 26 March 2007

  • Competing interests: None.