Blue-Collar Workers Show Greater Job Stress Risks

Article excerpt

By Lori Moody Los Angeles Daily News LOS ANGELES _ They mix drinks and shoot the breeze with customers, but bartenders may not be the laid-back, take-it-all-in-stride people they appear to be.

A new study ranking occupations by blood pressures shows that bartenders have a higher risk of heart attack than 243 other occupations reviewed by J. Paul Leigh, a professor of economics at San Jose State University who has studied occupational safety and hazards for about nine years.

Ranked behind bartenders are laundry and dry-cleaning operators, public administrators, food-service workers, private child-care workers and bus drivers. Freight and material handlers, structural metal craftsmen and telephone operators also ranked among the top 10 occupations having the highest blood pressures.

"We have a misconception that white-collar professions _ bank executives, (oil company) executives. . .CEOs _ have the highest stress, therefore the highest blood pressure," Leigh said. "The opposite is true."

The study, which will appear in the August issue of the Journal of Occupational Medicine, uses data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the years 1971 to 1975 and examines 20,729 people _ including teen- agers, retirees and homemakers _ in the United States.

Leigh restricted his study to 8,130 full-time workers 25 years and older.

The study ranks the occupations by diastolic and systolic blood pressures. Diastolic pressure is when the heart muscle is relaxed between beats. Systolic is the force exerted by the heart as it beats.

The study corroborates research from studies published in 1981 and 1988 in the American Journal of Public Health and in 1990 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that blue-collar workers may be at higher risk than executives for high blood pressure and heart attack because of job stress, Leigh said. …

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