Double jeopardy: workplace hazards and behavioral risks for craftspersons and laborers

Glorian Sorensen, Harvard School of Public Health
Anne M. Stoddard, New England Research Institutes
S. Katharine Hammond, University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
James R. Hebert, University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Jill S. Avrunin, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Judith K. Ockene, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Document Type Article


PURPOSE: To address three specific questions in a sample of craftspersons and laborers: (1) Do craftspersons and laborers exposed to workplace hazards have higher behavioral risks, such as smoking and high-fat diets, than those with few job risks? (2) Compared to workers with few job risks, do workers exposed to risks on the job have higher intentions to reduce their behavioral risks? (3) Does concern about the level of exposure to risks on the job increase workers' intentions to reduce behavioral risks?

DESIGN: A cross-sectional self-administered survey was conducted in participating worksites.

SETTING: Twenty-two predominantly manufacturing worksites in Massachusetts.

SUBJECTS: Craftspersons and laborers responding to the survey and employed in these 22 worksites (completion rate = 61%, N = 1841).

MEASURES: By using standardized items, this survey measured self-reported exposure to workplace hazards, concern about job exposures, smoking status, fat and fiber intake, readiness to quit smoking, plans to reduce fat intake, plans to eat more fruits and vegetables, and sociodemographic variables.

RESULTS: Workers reporting exposure to chemical hazards on the job were significantly more likely to be smokers than were unexposed workers, even when results were controlled for gender. Compared with unexposed workers, smokers exposed to chemical hazards were significantly more likely to be thinking of quitting or taking action to quit, when results were controlled for gender, race, and education. Among workers exposed to occupational chemical hazards, concern about this exposure was significantly associated with intentions to decrease fat intake and increase fruit and vegetable intake, and, among men, intentions to quit smoking.

CONCLUSIONS: Efforts aimed at integrating health promotion and health protection are needed to address simultaneously the job risks and personal risks these workers face.