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July 27, 2010

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Lifestyle link to death rates varies between jobs

The risk of death from diseases and injuries caused by alcohol, drugs, and sexual habits varies significantly according to occupation, new research suggests. 

The study, published in the scientific journal Occupational Medicine, analysed 1.6 million deaths over a ten-year period and found that the rates of death from diseases and injuries related to alcohol, drugs, and sexual habits were much higher in certain professions.

Painters, bricklayers, plasterers, roofers and those working in the artistic and literary professions were almost twice as likely to die from drug abuse compared with the average worker. Merchant seamen and people working in the pub and catering industry had a much higher risk of an alcohol-related death.

Tailors, dressmakers and male hairdressers had nine times’ the average risk of death from HIV infection.

In general, the authors of the study conclude that diseases and injuries that caused these deaths are unlikely to be a direct consequence of work. However, it is acknowledged that in the case of publicans and bar staff, alcohol-related disease could be regarded as a genuine occupational hazard, as they may be encouraged to consume alcohol during the course of their work because of offers of free drinks from customers.

The study could also shed light on opportunities for preventive action and targeted interventions. Professor David Coggon, who led the research, said: “This study demonstrates that there are major differences between occupational groups in their risk of death from drug and alcohol-related diseases. The findings are important because they indicate opportunities for targeted interventions to prevent illness and promote health.”

Dr Olivia Carlton, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, which published the study, commented: “The workplace is an ideal environment to pick up on drug and alcohol problems and to put in place policies to improve safety and productivity, and to help workers.

“Problems can come to light because a worker’s performance is affected, they may develop mental-health problems, or they may be off work more often. Occupational-health doctors can help those individuals who are affected and help the employers implement drug and alcohol policies and awareness programmes.”

She added that the workplace is also a good setting in which to provide health information about safe sexual practice, as part of a general health-promotion programme.

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13 years ago

Really Sherlock? Talk about stating the ……obvious.!