Objectives: Both shift work and other work environment factors have been shown to be related to heart disease. This study examined whether shift work is associated with other work environment factors related to heart disease in a random sample of the population. If so, shift work could be acting as a proxy for work environment differences.
Methods: Data on 5940 employees in the Danish Work Environment Cohort Study from 1990 were reanalyzed. The information included work schedules [permanent day work, irregular workhours (including morning work), 2-shift or fixed evening and 3-shift or fixed night], length of workweek, physical factors (noise, heat, dust, passive smoking, walking, standing and monotonous repetitive tasks), and psychosocial factors (including demands and control dimensions, social support, conflicts and job insecurity).
Results: At least 1 group of shift workers had a higher prevalence of nearly every unfavorable work environment factor investigated. Exceptions were dust exposure and quantitative demands. Especially conflicts at work and low decision latitude were higher among all the groups of shift workers, and all-day walking or standing work and part-time jobs were more often found among female shift workers. The 3 different shiftwork groups were exposed to different parts of the work environment, and also men and women in shift work differed in relation to the work environment. Age and social class influenced the relationship, but not in any particular pattern.
Conclusions: In a heterogenous population shift work was found to be associated with other work environment factors suspected to cause heart disease.