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Blue-collar workers face health crisis

Oct. 4, 2012 - 06:17PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 4, 2012 - 06:17PM  |  
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Workers who keep the country running through transportation, construction and other services may also suffer the worst health, according to recent rankings of employees' well-being.

Research group Gallup and wellness company Healthways gathered information about employees' health and living through their 2011 Well-Being Index, which found that blue-collar workers topped the charts when it came to many health concerns: About 37 percent of transportation workers and 30.7 percent of manufacturing and production employees are obese, and smoking was prevalent among 33 percent in mining and construction and 29.3 percent in installation and repair work.

On average, blue-collar workers were more than 6 percentage points above the national smoking rate. Carter Coberley, director of Health Research and Outcomes at Healthways, says that by improving employees' health, companies will see less turnover and lower health care costs. "The key for organizations is understanding the unique aspects of their own workforces' well-being and then the unique things they're going to have to do as an employer to address the needs of the population," he says.

More than a quarter of construction and mining workers were obese, and half reported they did not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Health care, illness and work environment also varied across the industries. Nearly half of construction and mining workers had not visited a dentist in the past year, and 31.5 percent of transportation employees had high blood pressure.

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