Mortality of short-term workers in two international cohorts

J Occup Environ Med. 1998 Dec;40(12):1120-6. doi: 10.1097/00043764-199812000-00012.


The purpose of this study was to compare the pattern of mortality of blue-collar workers employed less and more than 1 year in the man-made vitreous fiber (MMVF) and the reinforced plastic industries, the latter group being exposed to styrene. We conducted an analysis among 21,784 workers with less than 1 year of employment (short-term workers) and 19,117 workers with 1 or more years of employment (long-term workers) employed in eight European countries. We conducted analyses based on external as well as internal comparisons. In both cohorts, the standardized mortality ratio for all causes among short-term workers was approximately 40% higher, compared with that for longer-term workers. In internal comparisons, the difference was reduced to 9% in the MMVF cohort and 11% in the styrene cohort. Workers with less than 1 month of employment displayed an increased mortality in both cohorts and in most countries. The increased mortality among short-term workers was not concentrated shortly after they quit employment. In both cohorts, short-term workers had a higher mortality from external causes, while little difference was seen in mortality from ischemic heart disease and malignant neoplasms. Although extra-occupational factors may contribute to increase the mortality of short-term workers and, in particular, of those employed for less than 1 month, the difference observed in analyses adjusted for characteristics of employment suggested a relatively small difference in mortality from most causes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cause of Death
  • Chemical Industry*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mineral Fibers*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Plastics*
  • Styrene
  • Time Factors


  • Mineral Fibers
  • Plastics
  • Styrene