Risks of a lifetime in construction. Part II: Chronic occupational diseases

Am J Ind Med. 2014 Nov;57(11):1235-45. doi: 10.1002/ajim.22366. Epub 2014 Aug 14.


Background: We developed working-life estimates of risk for dust-related occupational lung disease, COPD, and hearing loss based on the experience of the Building Trades National Medical Screening Program in order to (1) demonstrate the value of estimates of lifetime risk, and (2) make lifetime risk estimates for common conditions among construction workers.

Methods: Estimates of lifetime risk were performed based on 12,742 radiographic evaluations, 12,679 spirometry tests, and 11,793 audiograms.

Results: Over a 45-year working life, 16% of construction workers developed COPD, 11% developed parenchymal radiological abnormality, and 73.8% developed hearing loss. The risk for occupationally related disease over a lifetime in a construction trade was 2-6 times greater than the risk in non-construction workers.

Conclusions: When compared with estimates from annualized cross-sectional data, lifetime risk estimates are highly useful for risk expression, and should help to inform stakeholders in the construction industry as well as policy-makers about magnitudes of risk.

Keywords: COPD; audiometry; construction industry; diseases; hearing loss; lifetime risk; lung disease; occupation; radiographic; spirometry; surveillance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Construction Industry*
  • Dust
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise, Occupational / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pneumoconiosis / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumoconiosis / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / epidemiology*
  • Radiography
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Dust