Occupational Injuries Among Older Workers With Disabilities: A Prospective Cohort Study of the Health and Retirement Survey, 1992 to 1994

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Abstract

Objectives

We tested the hypothesis that among older workers, disabilities in general, and hearing and visual impairments in particular, are risk factors for occupational injuries.

Methods

Using the first 2 interviews of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of Americans aged 51 to 61 years, we conducted a prospective cohort study of 5600 employed nonfarmers.

Results

Testing a logistic regression model developed in a previous cross-sectional study, we found that the following occupations and risk factors were associated with occupational injury as estimated by odds ratios: service personnel, odds ratio = 1.71 (95% confidence interval = 1.13, 2.57); mechanics and repairers, 3.47 (1.98, 6.10); operators and assemblers, 2.33 (1.51, 3.61); laborers, 3.16 (1.67, 5.98); jobs requiring heavy lifting, 2.05 (1.55, 2.70); self-employment, 0.50 (0.34, 0.73); and self-reported disability, 1.58 (1.14, 2.19). Replacing the general disability variable with specific hearing and visual impairment variables, we found that poor hearing (1.35 [0.95, 1.93]) and poor sight (1.45 [0.94, 2.22]) both had elevated odds ratios.

Conclusions

Poor sight and poor hearing, as well as work disabilities in general, are associated with occupational injuries among older workers. (Am J Public Health. 1998;88:1691-1695)

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