Preparations are currently underway for the new formally recognized occupational disease of "Diseases of the blood, haematopoietic system and lymphatic system caused by benzene" to be included in the annex of the German occupational diseases regulation. For a case of occupational disease to be recognized, the cumulative benzene dose in ppm years over the course of the worker's working life is of decisive importance, besides the clinical picture. Since benzene is percutaneously absorptive, information on the duration, form and scale of skin contact (dermal exposure) is required for calculation of the cumulative benzene dose, besides information on the level and duration of inhalative exposure.
In order for the case workers at the accident insurance institutions to be supported in their calculations of the benzene dose in ppm years during procedures for the formal recognition of cases of occupational disease, a software application was to be developed based upon the existing occupational anamnesis software for "fibre years" and "benzo[a]pyrene years" and containing an additional module for the identification and calculation of the dermal exposure.
The objective was a uniform user interface and organization for the two software products, since benzene years are frequently calculated by the same case workers responsible for calculating fibre years and benzo[a]pyrene years.
The benzene years occupational anamnesis software was developed by the BGIA - Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance, in close co-operation with the individual accident insurance institutions, in the latter's working group for "Retrospective benzene exposure".
The application is based upon: instructions for retrospective assessment of benzene exposure ("Anwendungshinweise Benzol"), No. 9105 of the BGIA ring binder, published by the BGIA; scientific rationale of the "Occupational diseases" medical advisory council for a new formally recognized disease, "Diseases of the blood, haematopoietic system and lymphatic system caused by benzene" to be included in the annex of the German occupational diseases regulation; the BGIA fibre and BaP years medical history software; and the publication by Nies et al.: Perkutane Aufnahme von Benzol - Folgerungen für die retrospektive Expositionsabschätzung (percutaneous absorption of benzene: consequences for retrospective estimation of exposure). Arbeitsmed Sozialmed Umweltmed 40 (2005) 585-594.
The software was to be suitable for network installation and was to include the usual functions: input of data on the insured individual and their exposure; generation of a report in MS Word format for further editing; facility for searches in previously recorded procedures for the documentation of medical histories; data interchange function; and conversion of data records to an ASCII format.
A test version was produced and was then tested by occupational disease case workers at several accident insurance institutions. Following further optimization, the final version was made available to all interested accident insurance institutions. Inclusion of the software in the internal information system for the DGUV's case handling of occupational diseases and rehabilitation is planned.
The benzene years medical history software has been produced and is in use at the accident insurance institutions following successful trials.
-cross sectoral-Type of hazard:
occupational diseaseDescription, key words:
formally recognized occupational disease (BK), benzene, cancer, anamnesis, cumulative exposure, inhalative exposure, dermal exposure, skin contact