Injured workers at greater risk of suicide or overdose deaths

A US study has found that workers injured in the workplace are ‘significantly’ more likely to die from suicide or opioid overdose. The research findings published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine follow early studies showing that injured workers have elevated rates of opioid use and depression. The authors of the new study say that while depression is among the most well-documented health consequences of workplace injury, no studies had previously measured the increased deaths related to opioid use and depression among injured workers.

The study, supported by the US government occupational health research body NIOSH, linked New Mexico’s state workers’ compensation data for 100,806 workers injured in the period from 1994 to 2000 with Social Security Administration earnings and mortality data up to 2013 and National Death Index cause of death data. Among women, lost‐time injuries were associated with a near tripling in the risk of drug‐related deaths and a 92 per cent increase in the risk of deaths from suicide. For men, a lost‐time injury was associated with a 72 per cent increased risk of suicide and a 29 per cent increase in the risk of drug‐related death, although the increase in drug‐related deaths was not statistically significant.

The authors warn their study could under-estimate the true effect due to limitations in the available data. They conclude: “Workplace injuries severe enough to require more than a week off work may impair workers' long-term health and wellbeing. Drug-related deaths and suicides may be important contributors to the long-term excess mortality of injured workers. Improved workplace conditions, improved pain treatment, better treatment of substance use disorders, and treatment of post-injury depression may substantially reduce mortality consequent to workplace injuries.”
Read more: NIOSH Science Blog, 8 August 2019. Katie M. Applebaum and others. Suicide and drug‐related mortality following occupational injury, [Abstract] American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published ahead of print, 12 July 2019. Source: Risks 910

Climate change drives increase in site heat deaths

Construction workers account for over a third of all heat-related workplace deaths in the US - a rate six times that for the workforce as a whole, a new study has found. Between 1992 and 2016, 783 US workers died because of exposure to excessive heat, and almost 70,000 were “seriously injured,” according to federal figures. Those surviving heatstroke can still suffer life-altering health impacts, including organ failure and brain damage.

Construction workers account for about 6 per cent of the total workforce in the US but accounted for 36 per cent of heat-related deaths since 1992, according to the study published last month in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. Researchers from the Washington DC based Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR), the University of Illinois and Georgetown University found construction workers’ risk of dying due to heat has steadily increased over time. They noted those workers most at risk for heat-related deaths are, generally speaking, the workers with the least rights in the Trump era: Latino workers, particularly Latino workers born in Mexico. During this period, the risk of heat-related death for Latino construction workers increased by more than 20 per cent, and the risk of heat-related death for Mexican workers nearly doubled. “US construction workers are at a high risk of heat-related death, and this risk has increased with climate change over time,” wrote the researchers. “Effective workplace interventions, enhanced surveillance, and improved regulations and enforcement should accompany broader efforts to combat global warming.”
Read more: Xiuwen Sue Dong and others. Heat‐related deaths among construction workers in the United States, [Abstract] American Journal of Industrial Medicine, First published online 22 July 2019. CPWR research summary. US Construction Workers Are Dropping Dead—Here’s Why. The Observer Source: Risks 910

Long travel hours stressful; affect sleep

A Korean study of more than 28,000 workers has found that stress resulting from long daily commutes negatively affects sleep, particularly when people are working long hours. Workers travelling 50 minutes or more a day round trip to work are up to twice as likely to experience difficulties sleeping than those travelling less than 10 minutes a day. Those who worked more than 40 hours per week faced increased risk of sleep problems, especially among women, regardless of other work factors such as job security, income, company size, job satisfaction, regularity of commute and having control over working schedules.

The researchers from Yonsei and Kyung Hee Universities assessed a range of studies that supported the finding that long commute times lead to inadequate sleep and chronic fatigue, which in turn is associated with cardiovascular disease. In addition they noted that sleep deprivation diminishes workers' productivity and poses other health and safety risks in the workplace. 
Read more: Soojin Kim, et al, Long commute time and sleep problems with gender difference work-life balance: a cross-sectional study of more than 25,000 workers. [Full article], Safety and Health at Work, online first August 2019. Source: OHS Alert



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