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Risk of death from drug and alcohol-related diseases varies between occupational groups

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The risk of death from diseases and injuries caused by alcohol, drugs and sexual habits varies significantly between different jobs and professions.

The study published in the scientific journal, Occupational Medicine, undertook an analysis of 1.6 million deaths over a 10-year period and found the rates of death from diseases and injuries related to alcohol, sexual habits and drugs were much higher in certain occupations.
 
Painters, bricklayers, plasterers, roofers and those working in the artistic and literary professions had approximately twice the average rate of death from drug abuse.

Merchant seamen and people working in pubs and catering had much higher risks of alcohol-related death. Tailors, dressmakers and male hairdressers had nine times the average risk of death from HIV infection.
 
While in general the diseases and injuries that caused these deaths are unlikely to be a direct consequence of work, the study is important because it highlights opportunities for preventive action. The Society of Occupational Medicine has claimed that, by prioritising and targeting employees who work in the jobs concerned with preventive measures, lives can be saved.
 
David Coggon, who led the research, said: "This study demonstrates that there are major differences between occupational groups in their risk of death from drug and alcohol-related diseases. The findings are important because they indicate opportunities for targeted interventions to prevent illness and promote health."
 
Olivia Carlton, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, added: "The workplace is an ideal environment to pick up on drug and alcohol problems and to put in place policies to improve safety and productivity and to help workers. Problems can come to light because a workers performance is affected, they may develop mental health problems or they may be off work more often.

"Occupational health doctors can help those individuals who are affected and help the employers implement drug and alcohol policies and awareness programmes. Although it may not be so obvious, the workplace is also a good setting to provide health information about safe sexual practice, as part of a general health promotion programme. This study allows us to target the high- risk occupations."