Online Program

Relative concern for work safety and personal health risks among union carpenters

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bradley Evanoff, MD, MPH, Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Jaime Strickland, M.A., Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Ann Marie Dale, PhD, Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Background: Construction workers have high rates of work-related injuries and fatalities; they also have high rates of smoking and other risky health behaviors. We assessed health behaviors and perceptions of risks from work injury and health behaviors.

Methods: 1638 union carpenters completed a health behavior survey assessing relevant health conditions, health behaviors, and degree of concern related to different injuries, diseases, and exposures.

Results: Respondents were mostly male, with mean age of 40. 45% were overweight (BMI >25 <30) and 27% obese (BMI >30). 34% were current smokers; alcohol use was high. 83% used seatbelts most of the time; 42% used sunscreen. Median weekly driving to work was 250 miles. Similar proportion of workers were concerned about health risks related to work injury (49%), dusts/fumes at work (51%), cancer (47%), and heart disease (42%). Fewer workers were concerned about health risks from car accidents (30%), diabetes (29%), smoking (26%), and drinking alcohol (11%). Health concerns did not correspond appropriately with health risks for several behaviors including smoking and seat belt use.

Discussion: These findings illustrate the need for health behavior interventions in this high-risk population. Work safety issues are of real concern in construction workers; concerns over other common preventable causes of mortality and morbidity were incongruent with health risks. Safety education has influenced workers’ concerns about work injuries; similar approaches can be used to heighten awareness of other health risks and may be more effective if conducted as part of an integrated program of safety and worker health.

Learning Areas:

Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify risky health behaviors and health concerns in construction workers Describe the disparity between health behaviors and health concerns

Keyword(s): Occupational Health and Safety, Workplace

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am an occupational health physician whose research has focused on the characterization and prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses. In addition to risk factor epidemiology, this research has involved worksite interventions aimed at reducing injuries and promoting health in complex environments, including construction sites and health care facilities. Our group is currently conducting a randomized controlled trial of smoking cessation in construction workers, and studies of interventions to reduce falls and musculoskeletal injuries.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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