Physical occupational exposures and health expectancies in a French occupational cohort

Occup Environ Med. 2017 Mar;74(3):176-183. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2016-103804. Epub 2016 Sep 21.


Objectives: To examine the relationships of strenuous and hazardous working conditions and rotating shifts that involve night working with life expectancy in good perceived health and life expectancy without chronic disease.

Methods: The sample contained male gas and electricity workers from the French GAZEL cohort (n=13 393). Six measures of physical working conditions were examined: Self-reports from 1989 and 1990 of ergonomic strain, physical danger, rotating shifts that involve night working and perceived physical strain; company records of workplace injuries and a job-exposure matrix of chemical exposures. Partial healthy life expectancies (age 50-75) relating to (1) self-rated health and (2) chronic health conditions, obtained from annual questionnaires (1989-2014) and company records, were estimated using multistate life tables. The analyses were adjusted for social class and occupational grade.

Results: Participants with physically strenuous jobs and who had experienced industrial injuries had shorter partial life expectancy. More physically demanding and dangerous work was associated with fewer years of life spent in good self-rated health and without chronic conditions, with the exception of shift work including nights, where the gradient was reversed.

Conclusions: Strenuous and hazardous work may contribute to lost years of good health in later life, which has implications for individuals' quality of life as well as healthcare use and labour market participation.

Keywords: chronic illness; self-rated health; work hazards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • France / epidemiology
  • Gases / adverse effects*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Life Expectancy*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Work Schedule Tolerance


  • Gases