Hearing Loss tops list of work-related illnesses

National 1 minute, 40 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ASTHMA, hearing loss and skin diseases are among the top leading occupational illnesses seen in Brunei, said a senior medical officer from Jerudong Park Medical Centre (JPMC).

Speaking to senior medical officer in Occupational Health at JPMC’s Outpatient Department, Dr Nayake Balalla said majority of workers in the sultanate after undergoing occupational health screenings were diagnosed with noise-induced deafness.

This was followed by skin diseases such as occupational dermatitis- a skin disorder caused by coming into contact with certain substances in the workplace and occupational asthma.

He believes that many more cases of work-related diseases are undiagnosed or unreported, as a result of the lack in qualified occupational health personnel.

According to Dr Balalla, globally, 15 per cent of asthma cases are work related due to exposure to asthma inducing toxins while at work.

Dr Balalla, who has been working in Brunei for more than 10 years, said companies and agencies in the country can do more to ensure their employees are prevented from potential diseases such as lung diseases and skin disorders.

He said safety and injuries are often prioritised in workplace, while work related diseases are usually neglected.

“We always look into injuries but not really into the diseases that are linked to workplace environment,” said the medical expert, noting that more improvements on preventative measures should be done at workplaces.

According to Dr Balalla, globally, an estimated nine per cent of lung cancer is attributed to work.

“We usually think lung cancer is caused by smoking, but it can be related with work as well,” he said, noting that some workers are not aware of the cancer causing chemicals they are exposed to at work.

Dr Balalla stressed that occupational diseases are preventable, adding it is the responsibility of those in management. He said it is their duty to control workplace hazards and educate workers.

“More awareness needs to be done, we need to educated and train employers and workers through in-house workshops and programmes,” he said.

The Brunei Times