National survey reveals health effects of work on U.S. population
Nearly one-third of U.S. workers report experiencing job insecurity. Twenty-nine percent said they've worked alternative shifts other than a day shift. Ten percent of workers report exposure to secondhand smoke despite an increase in smoke-free workplace policies.
Those are among the findings of more than 17,000 workers responding to questions in the 2010 National Health Interview Survey. The data offers insight into how work affects the health of the U.S. population and includes follow-up articles that could signal actions for employers to take.
"The changing nature of work has led to work organization characteristics that may adversely impact health," according to a science blog posting by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. "In 2010, non-standard work arrangements which include independent contracting or consulting, freelancing, being on-call, and working through a temporary agency or contractor were held by 19 percent of U.S. workers and 7 percent were employed in temporary positions."
NIOSH sponsored the Occupational Health Supplement to the 2010 survey and has made the data available to the public. Many of the results have been published in the June issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
Other findings include:
- Psychosocial factors. "Monitoring psychosocial factors is important in preventing workplace stress and promoting mental and physical health," the report explains. "In 2010, 32 percent of U.S. workers experienced job insecurity, 16 percent had difficulty combining work and family responsibilities, and nearly 8 percent were bullied or harassed at work."
- Hazardous exposures. "In 2010, about 20 percent of U.S. workers experienced frequent occupational skin contact with chemicals and almost 25 percent frequently worked outdoors," according to the report. "And, when asked about their longest-held jobs, 25 percent reported chronic exposure to vapors, dust, gas, or fumes."
- Common work-related health conditions. "Carpal tunnel syndrome affected almost 5 million workers in 2010, and two-thirds of cases were attributed to work. Dermatitis affected over 15 million workers in 2010 and was especially common among health care workers. Over 11 million had asthma, and around 7 percent of these cases were attributed to work."
Another OHS will be available in 2015. NIOSH is seeking feedback by November on related questions that could be included.
By Nancy Grover
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 19, 2013
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