NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 21, 2008

Health workers suffer the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, while managers have the lowest rates of cancer, according to researchers from the Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health at the University of Sydney in a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Overall, according to researchers:

  • Workers in the health and community services industry have the highest rates of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular disease.
  • Retail workers have the highest rates of musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Managers and administrators have a lower relative risk of all the diseases studied except for bronchitis and similar respiratory illnesses.
  • Laborers have a lower risk of everything except musculoskeletal conditions.

Other findings included:

  • Workers in accommodation, cafes and restaurants were particularly likely to suffer from musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and endocrine conditions, as well as bronchitis and similar respiratory illnesses.
  • Cancer was most common in the transport and storage industry, followed closely by health and community services; and mental illness was most common in the retail industry, and least common in manufacturing.
  • Advanced clerical and service workers had significantly increased rates of tumors, bronchitis and endocrine conditions; but those conditions are least likely among transport and production workers.
  • Overall, almost two-thirds of the workforce suffer from chronic health conditions.

Women were more likely than men to have a medical condition limiting their capacity to work, while people in a de facto marriage were less likely than married people to have a work-limiting condition.

Source: Jen Kelly, "Health workers hit by occupational hazards," Melbourne Herald Sun, February 18, 2008.

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