Objectives Shift work has been categorised as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. This is an exposure assessment for a study of shift work and cancer in a cohort created by linkage of the Canadian national cancer registry and the 1991 long form census, which recorded occupation and industry of employment for 2.1 million Canadians, but did not query specific exposures. We used a contemporary (1993) survey to characterise shift work exposures by occupation, industry, and sex.
Methods Analyses were conducted on the 1993 Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) to determine the prevalence of night shift work in the contemporary population, highly exposed industries and occupations and sex differences in shift work prevalence within industries. All analyses were restricted to the employed population and weighted to account for sampling methodology.
Results 17% of employed 1993 SLID respondents were exposed to night shift work, with 5% of reporting a regular evening work schedule, 2% a regular night shift and 10% a rotating shift. Night shift work was most common (>65%) in pulping control operators in the pulp and paper industry; food service helpers, servers and bartenders in hotels and motels; uncommissioned police officers; and light duty cleaners. Exposure to shift work was similar in men and women (18% vs 16%), but sex differences were apparent in certain industries. Within protective services (includes police) shift work prevalence was 11% in women and 20% in men while within hospitals prevalence was 37% in women and 29% in men.
Conclusions This exposure assessment for a census cohort has the advantage of drawing from a contemporary population based sample, demonstrating that occupation, industry and sex are important dimensions for a shift work exposure matrix designed for application to a census cohort or other general population sample.
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