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Open Access Study protocol

‘Relieved Working’ study: systematic development and design of an intervention to decrease occupational quartz exposure at construction worksites

Karen M Oude Hengel1*, Erik van Deurssen12, Tim Meijster1, Erik Tielemans1, Dick Heederik2 and Anjoeka Pronk1

Author Affiliations

1 Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, P.O. Box 718, 2130 AS Hoofddorp, The Netherlands

2 Utrecht University, IRAS (Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences), Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:760  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-760

Published: 28 July 2014



Occupational quartz exposure continues to be a serious hazard in the construction industry. Until now, evidence-based interventions aimed at reducing quartz exposure are scarce. The aim of this study was to systematically develop an intervention and to describe the study to evaluate its effectiveness.


The intervention was developed according to the principles of the Intervention Mapping protocol, meaning that evidence from the literature was combined with information collected from stakeholders (e.g., construction workers, managers and researchers). The intervention aimed to integrate technical, behavioural and organizational factors. The intervention consists of two plenary meetings for all employers within the company, and individual visits at construction worksites, including specific intervention materials. Additionally, a demonstration session regarding control measures was organized for all managers. The effectiveness of the intervention will be evaluated in a cluster randomized controlled trial among eight construction companies, with measurements at baseline and follow-up. Outcome measures are personal respirable dust and quartz exposure by means of exposure assessment, and behavioural and organizational determinants which will be assessed by means of questionnaires. Additionally, a process evaluation will shed light on whether the intervention (does not) works, and, if so, the reasons for this.


Applying Intervention Mapping in the development of an intervention to reduce occupational quartz exposure was useful, as different stakeholders provided input for the intervention as well as the implementation strategy. Therefore, the feasibility of the intervention has been enhanced, as it appeals to construction workers and managers and will not unduly interfere with the ongoing construction work.

Trial registration number

NTR4586 (May 7th 2014).

Occupational quartz exposure; Construction industry; Intervention mapping