How Does Work Affect the Health of the U.S. Population? Free Data from the 2010 NHIS-OHS Provides the AnswersPosted on by
NIOSH sponsored an Occupational Health Supplement (OHS) to the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), and the data is publicly available. See the NIOSH Topic Page for more information. Over 17 thousand current and recent U.S. workers supplied information on their industry, occupation, and the workplace health conditions and exposures listed below. Initial results have been published in the June issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine. We have provided a summary of the research and links to the articles below. What novel associations might you be able to find concerning your area of interest? We would also like your input on topics to cover in the 2015 survey. See the end of this post for information on how to suggest ideas.
Work Organization Characteristics: Non-standard work arrangements; Temporary positions; Alternative Shifts
The changing nature of work has led to work organization characteristics that may adversely impact health. In 2010, non-standard work arrangements which include independent contracting or consulting, freelancing, being on-call, and working through a temporary agency or contractor were held by 19% of U.S. workers and 7% were employed in temporary positions. Among all U.S. workers, 29% worked an alternative shift (a shift other than a regular day shift) and almost 19% worked 48 or more hours per week. For more information on these topics, and to see which industries and occupations reported the highest rates of exposure, view the full article.
Psychosocial Factors: Job insecurity; Work-family imbalance; Hostile work environment
Monitoring psychosocial factors is important in preventing workplace stress and promoting mental and physical health. In 2010, 32% of U.S. workers experienced job insecurity, 16% had difficulty combining work and family responsibilities, and nearly 8% were bullied or harassed at work. For more information on these topics, view the full article.
Hazardous Exposures: Skin hazards; Outdoor work; Secondhand smoke; Other respiratory hazards (Vapors, gas, dust and fumes )
Did you think that hazardous workplace physical and chemical exposures were a thing of the past? In 2010, about 20% of U.S. workers experienced frequent occupational skin contact with chemicals, and almost 25% frequently worked outdoors. Despite increases in smoke-free workplace policies, 10% of non-smoking U.S. workers were exposed to secondhand smoke at work. And, when asked about their longest-held jobs, 25% reported chronic exposure to vapors, dust, gas, or fumes. For more information on these topics, and to see which industries and occupations reported the highest rates of exposure, view the full article.
Common Work-related Health Conditions: Carpal tunnel syndrome, Dermatitis, Asthma
Carpal tunnel syndrome affected almost 5 million workers in 2010, and 2/3 of cases were attributed to work. For more information on this topic, view the full article.
Dermatitis affected over 15 million workers in 2010, and was especially common among healthcare workers. For more information on this topic, view the full article.
Among U.S. workers, over 11 million had asthma and around 7% of these cases were attributed to work. For more information on this topic, view the full article.
More free data! NHIS will include another Occupational Health Supplement in 2015. Some proposed ideas for the 2015 survey include ergonomic exposures, work-related low back pain, work-related chronic joint pain, safety culture, and the general impact of work on health. What occupational health related questions would you like to see on the next survey? Please provide feedback in the comment section below. We’ll need your ideas by November 2013.
Sara E. Luckhaupt, MD, MPH; Dara L. Burris, BS
Dr. Luckhaupt is a medical epidemiologist in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Health Evaluations and Field Studies.
Ms. Burris is an ORISE Fellow in the NIOSH Division of Surveillance, Health Evaluations and Field Studies.