Article Text

This article has a correction. Please see:

Download PDFPDF
All-cause and cause specific mortality in a cohort of 20 000 construction workers; results from a 10 year follow up
  1. V Arndt1,
  2. D Rothenbacher1,
  3. U Daniel2,
  4. B Zschenderlein2,
  5. S Schuberth2,
  6. H Brenner1
  1. 1German Centre for Research on Ageing, Department of Epidemiology, Bergheimer Strasse 20, D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany
  2. 2Occupational Health Service, Workmen’s Compensation Board for Construction Workers Württemberg, D-71029 Böblingen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr V Arndt
 German Centre for Research on Ageing (DZFA), Department of Epidemiology, Bergheimer Strasse 20, D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany;


Background: Construction workers are potentially exposed to many health hazards, including human carcinogens such as asbestos, silica, and other so-called “bystander” exposures from shared work places. The construction industry is also a high risk trade with respect to accidents.

Methods: A total of 19 943 male employees from the German construction industry who underwent occupational health examinations between 1986 and 1992 were followed up until 1999/2000.

Results: A total of 818 deaths occurred during the 10 year follow up (SMR 0.71; 95% CI 0.66 to 0.76). Among those were 299 deaths due to cancer (SMR 0.89; 95% CI 0.79 to 1.00) and 312 deaths due to cardiovascular diseases (SMR 0.59; 95% CI 0.51 to 0.68). Increased risk of mortality was found for non-transport accidents (SMR 1.61; 95% CI 1.15 to 2.27), especially due to falls (SMR 1.87; 95% CI 1.18 to 2.92) and being struck by falling objects (SMR 1.90; 95% CI 0.88 to 3.64). Excess mortality due to non-transport accidents was highest among labourers and young and middle-aged workers. Risk of getting killed by falling objects was especially high for foreign workers (SMR 4.28; 95% CI 1.17 to 11.01) and labourers (SMR 6.01; 95% CI 1.63 to 15.29).

Conclusion: Fatal injuries due to falls and being struck by falling objects pose particular health hazards among construction workers. Further efforts are necessary to reduce the number of fatal accidents and should address young and middle-aged, semi-skilled and foreign workers, in particular. The lower than expected cancer mortality deserves careful interpretation and futher follow up of the cohort.

  • construction workers
  • building trade
  • fatal injuries
  • mortality
  • PMR, proportionate mortality ratio
  • SMR, standardised mortality ratio

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Financial support: This study was partly supported by the Association of the Workmen’s Compensation Board for Construction Workers, Germany

Linked Articles

  • Work in brief
    Keith Palmer
  • Correction
    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd