According to NIOSH, the links between a job and a worker’s total health or well-being are numerous. Not all are good.
Dr. Casey Chosewood of NIOSH explains more in these excerpts:
Insecurity. “One word pops to mind immediately: wages. If you don’t have an income, your health is likely to suffer pretty quickly, pretty fast. If for no other reason because of the stress that comes from not knowing if you’re going to get a paycheck next Friday. But in truth, there’s a significant and growing segment of our workforce that does not have the guarantee of a paycheck next Friday. Yes, they work, they get up to work every day, but there’s no security built in to the nature of that work. ”
Chosewood said paying shift workers is an “immediate way” that employers can improve the health of their shift workers and that sometimes it’s only about paying them 10 cents or 50 cents more per hour.
Time Poverty. While work is a precursor to injuries, it is also the cause of another health problem, one that he calls time poverty. Time poverty afflicts those who must hold down multiple jobs.
“You have no time at the end of the day leftover for anything else. All of the health pursuits that you might be trying to achieve, there’s no time left over for them. No time for family or physical activity, for finding healthy meals and preparing them. Time poverty is a significant drain on the health of this nation, and it’s largely being driven by the need to have multiple jobs with multiple commutes that are tacked on as well.”
Obesity. What about one’s chances of being overweight or obese? The obesity rate among long-haul truck drivers is close to 80%. “This is not overweight and obesity combined, just pure obesity – 80% risk. And it isn’t only because obese people line up for the job when there’s a job opening on monster.com, okay? Obesity is a take-home benefit that should be listed in the benefits package of that job, right?”
Chosewood says it’s not just because truck driving is a sedentary job that obesity is common. “The stress that comes from needing to be constantly vigilant when you work is likely a play here. There’s also a significant element of boredom. So, truckers smoke more and they eat more to overcome the boredom and to avoid sleep. Long hours of working, fatigue and sleep disruption likely have hormonal influences that increase the risk factors of obesity. We need long-haul truck drivers. We need interventions to help with those folks.”
Obesity also plagues police officers, firefighters and security guards. Here, in addition to the influences of stress and chronic vigilance shared with truck drivers, these first responders “need to go from 0 to a 100 really quickly.” In fact, he said, most firefighters die of heart attacks on the job, not in burning buildings or collapses from a fire-related urgency. “What we believe is the long hours of work and the multiple shifts that police officers oftentimes have. Many of them have second or third jobs oftentimes because their pay is not enough to live in the cities that they protect.”
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