Objective: The aim of this article is to describe possible risk factors in the work environment that can affect the health of staff of the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN). The article presents the main results from a subproject related to a major surveillance of the health and work environment in this population. The project was performed as a response to general concerns regarding harmful work environment and negative health effects for these employees.
Participants and methods: In 2002, a questionnaire was sent out to all the employees in RNoN, and they answered during a period of three months. The overall response rate was 58% (n=2265), 2001 men and 250 women (14 unknown sex). 1581 military employees and 580 civilians participated (104 unknown). Mean age was 38 (range 18-70). Questions about years at work, exposure to chemical, physical and ergonomic hazards were developed for this particular study. Questions about allergy, asthma, hand eczema, hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer were asked. Musculoskeletal disorders were obtained by a standardized instrument.
Results: Exposure to noise, heavy lifting, twisted work positions and work close to antennas and communication equipment occurred often in this population. The most commonly reported diseases that might be work related were hand eczema, hearing loss and low back pain.
Conclusions: The results indicate the presence of several possible risk factors to health related to the work environment in this population. The project gives a basis for further action regarding the Health Safety and Environment work within RNoN.