Objectives Although smoking causes a variety of diseases and both, a high smoking prevalence and permanent occupational disability are a great burden on the population level, data about the impact of smoking habits on occupational disability are sparse. The objective of this study was to examine the influence of smoking habits on occupational disability among construction workers, an occupational group with particularly high smoking prevalence.
Methods The association between smoking and occupational disability was examined during a mean follow-up of 10.8 years in a cohort of 14 483 male construction workers in Württemberg, Germany. The cohort was linked to the regional pension register of the German pension fund to identify workers who were granted a disability pension during the follow-up. HRs (Hazard Ratios) were calculated with non-smokers as reference by the Cox proportional hazards model adjusting for potential confounding factors such as age, nationality, type of occupation, alcohol consumption and body mass index.
Results Overall, 2643 cases of occupational disability were observed, with dorsopathy (21%) being the most common cause. Clear dose-response relationships were seen between smoking and occupational disability due to all causes, as well as occupational disability due to respiratory, cardiovascular and mental diseases, cancer and dorsopathy. Particularly strong associations were seen between heavy smoking (≥20 cigarettes/day) and occupational disability due to mental and respiratory diseases (HR 3.25, 95% CI 1.93 to 5.46 and HR 3.26, 95% CI 1.69 to 6.27, respectively).
Conclusion Smoking is associated with increased risk of occupational disability among construction workers, in particular occupational disability due to respiratory, cardiovascular and mental diseases, cancer and dorsopathy.
- mental disease
- respiratory disease
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Funding This work was supported by the Association of the Workmen's Compensation Board for Construction Workers, Germany and by grants from the German Pension Fund (Deutsche Rentenversicherung Baden-Württemberg und Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund) (grant number 0421/40-64-50-13).
Competing interests None declared.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the ethics committees of the medical faculty of the University Clinics of Heidelberg and Ulm and by the Baden-Württemberg State Ministry of Social Affairs.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.