, Volume 85, Issue 7, pp 775-782,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 Nov 2011

Which subgroups of fire fighters are more prone to work-related diminished health requirements?

Abstract

Purpose

To determine whether certain subgroups of fire fighters are prone to work-related diminished health requirements.

Methods

The health requirements for fire-fighting were tested in a workers’ health surveillance (WHS) setting. These health requirements included psychological, physical and sense-related components as well as cardiovascular risk factors. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) for the presence of the diminished health requirements were calculated for the subgroups of gender, professionalism and age.

Results

The prevalence of diminished psychological requirements was equivalent among the subgroups, and no significant high-risk group was identified. As compared to men fire fighters, women fire fighters were more likely to have diminished physical requirements (OR 28.5; 95% CI 12.1–66.9) and less likely to have cardiovascular risk factors (OR 0.3; 0.1–0.5). As compared to volunteer fire fighters, professionals were less likely to have diminished physical requirements (OR 0.5; 0.3–0.9), but professionals had a higher prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors with an odds ratio of 1.9 (1.1–3.2). As compared to the youngest fire fighters, the oldest fire fighters were more likely to have diminished sense-related requirements (OR 7.1; 3.4–15.2); a similar comparison could be made between oldest and middle-aged fire fighters (OR 5.1; 2.5–10.5). In addition, the oldest fire fighters were more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors when compared to the youngest (OR 4.4; 1.7–11.1) and to the middle-aged fire fighters (OR 3.1; 1.2–7.9).

Conclusions

Subgroups (gender, professionalism and age) of fire fighters are prone to at least one specific work-related diminished health requirement. Therefore, parts of the WHS could be applied with more attention to these high-risk groups.