Mortality in a Swedish Rubber Tire Manufacturing Plant: Occupational Risks or an "Unhealthy Worker" Effect

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BackgroundIn this cohort study a classification of 12 work categories, with specified common exposures, is used to evaluate the mortality among workers in a Swedish rubber tire plant.MethodsMortality among the cohort members is compared with expected values from national rates. Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were calculated for the total cohort, for sub-cohorts and with the inclusion of a latency requirement.ResultsMale workers had increased risks for total mortality, circulatory death, respiratory death, mental disorders, epilepsy, injuries/poisoning, and for alcohol-related death. Many risks were noted among workers exposed to dust, fumes, or vapor. No trend in risk with increasing duration of employment was seen.DiscussionSome established risks for rubber workers could be related to some specified work categories. The highest risks were noted among workers having a very short duration of employment indicating a possible "unhealthy worker effect" associated with life-style factors or to tasks offered to unskilled workers.

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