Health risks in the cleaning industry: a Belgian census-linked mortality study (1991–2011)
- 851 Downloads
Cleaning work has been associated with a wide range of occupational health hazards. However, little is known about mortality risks in the cleaning industry. This study examines differences in cause-specific mortality between cleaners, manual and non-manual workers.
Using exhaustive census-linked mortality data, the total Belgian working population aged 30–60 was selected from the 1991 census. Analyses were based on 202,339 male and 58,592 female deaths between 1 March 1991 and 31 December 2011. Standardized Mortality Ratios were calculated and indirectly adjusted for smoking (SMR). In addition, Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to account for age, educational level, part-time employment and marital status.
Large mortality differences were observed between cleaners, manual and non-manual workers. In 2001–2011, smoking-adjusted SMRs for all-cause mortality were higher among cleaners than among non-manual workers (Men 1.25 CI 1.22–1.28; women 1.10 CI 1.07–1.13). SMRs also show cleaners had significantly more deaths due to COPD (men 2.13 CI 1.92–2.37; women 2.03 CI 1.77–2.31); lung cancer (men 1.31 CI 1.22–1.39; women 1.21 CI 1.11–1.32); pneumonia (men 1.64 CI 1.35–1.97; women 1.31 CI 1.00–1.68); ischaemic heart diseases (men 1.22 CI 1.13–1.31; women 1.40 CI 1.25–1.57) and cerebrovascular diseases (men 1.19 CI 1.05–1.35; women 1.13 CI 1.00–1.27). Mortality risks among cleaners remained elevated after adjustment for education.
Respiratory and cardiovascular mortality is considerably higher for male and female cleaners than for non-manual workers.
KeywordsOccupational health Census-linked data Cause-specific mortality Cardiovascular diseases Respiratory diseases
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The Research Council of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) supported the study. Laura Van den Borre is a PhD fellow at the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO).
- CDC (2014) The health consequences of smoking—50 years of progress: a report of the surgeon general. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US), Atlanta (GA). Available at: https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/full-report.pdf. Accessed 14 Mar 2017
- Eurofound (2014) Industrial cleaning: working conditions and job quality. European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin. Available at: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu. Accessed 11 Jan 2017
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (2009) The occupational safety and health of cleaning workers. Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, Luxembourg. Available at: https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/literature_reviews/cleaning_workers_and_OSH. Accessed 11 Jan 2017
- Eurostat (2015) Services to buildings and landscape activities statistics- NACE Rev. 2. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Services_to_buildings_and_landscape_activities_statistics_-_NACE_Rev._2. Accessed 29 Mar 2017
- Federal Public Service Employment; Labour and Social Dialogue (2016) Joint Committee for the cleaning enterprises (Jc 121). Available at: http://www.employment.belgium.be/WorkArea/linkit.aspx?LinkIdentifier=id&ItemID=7992. Accessed 19 Jan 2017
- Mousaid S, Bosmans K, Huegarts K, Vanroelen C (2015) The service voucher system, health and health inequalities. Brussels. Available at: http://www.sophie-project.eu/pdf/SVS.pdf. Accessed 21 Sept 2016
- Strand BH, Tverdal A (2004) Can cardiovascular risk factors and lifestyle explain the educational inequalities in mortality from ischaemic heart disease and from other heart diseases? 26 Year follow up of 50 000 Norwegian men and women. J Epidemiol Community Health 58:705–709. doi: 10.1136/jech.2003.014563 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- van de Mheen PJ, Gunning-Schepers LJ (1996) Differences between studies in reported relative risks associated with smoking: an overview. Public Health Rep 111:420–427Google Scholar
- WIV-ISP (2015) Health Interview Survey 1997, 2001, 2004, 2008. Available at: https://hisia.wiv-isp.be/SitePages/Home.aspx. Accessed 21 Mar 2017