This study examined the morbidity experience from 1981 to 1988 of a prospective cohort of 3422 refinery and petrochemical plant employees from the Shell Deer Park manufacturing complex. The morbidity data for this study, which include all illness and absence records in excess of five days, were extracted from the morbidity section of the Shell health surveillance system. Standardised morbidity ratios (SMRs) of disease prevalence in this cohort were calculated using an internal comparison group of all manufacturing employees of the Shell Oil Company. Among production employees, the overall morbidity was statistically significantly higher (SMR = 109) than that of the comparison group. Illness due to hypertension (SMR = 144), haemorrhoids (SMR = 149), diseases of the nervous system (SMR = 120), respiratory system (SMR = 108), and digestive system (SMR = 117) were also raised for this group. The increased risk due to these medical conditions does not appear to be associated with occupational factors. Lymphatic and haematopoietic tissue neoplasms were raised (SMR = 124), but were based on only four cases.
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