Green Collar Workers:
The New Frontier
Green-collar occupations that preserve and enhance environmental quality now represent the new US workforce frontier. Population-based occupational health surveillance systems specifically for US Green-collar workers have yet to be developed. Using descriptive and innovative advanced statistical methods such as Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), we propose to characterize the current US Green-collar worker health status as well as study linkages between occupational exposures, health status, functional limitations with musculoskeletal disorders and injury risk. The use of both descriptive and advanced analytic techniques will afford a powerful, flexible and innovative approach through Green-collar occupational health titles while controlling for specific workplace exposures and physical demands, permitting for the first time, a systematic examination of a variety of emerging and unanswered research questions including: 1) What are the sociodemographic characteristics of US Green-collar workers?; 2) What is the health status and activity limitation o US Green-collar workers as compared to blue-collar, service, white-collar and farm workers? 3) Are functional limitations reported by Green-collar workers associated with differences in injury rates? 4) Do workplace physical demands influence Green-collar worker physical activities?; and 5) Do Green-collar workers experience a higher burden of musculoskeletal disorders, than their blue-collar worker counterparts? Data from this study will come from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) linked with the US Occupational Information Network (O*NET) System using key occupational identifiers collected in O*NET (e.g., Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code, occupational title, physical work demands, job characteristics) via the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Research Data Center (RDC). Comprehensive descriptive statistics of the sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, morbidity, and health conditions on over 202 O*NET identified Green-collar occupations using data from the 2004+ NHIS will be documented. Descriptive statistics will be developed for the total group of Green-collar workers, and stratified by gender and race/ethnicity when sample size permits. NORA sector-specific strata will be presented for the Green-collar workers, as well as measures of injury, poisoning episodes and musculoskeletal disorders. Using SEM, we will examine the relationships between occupation and functional limitations among Green-collar workers along with associations mediated by important health behaviors (e.g. workplace and leisure-time physical activity). Proposed study aims support key goals of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health surveillance priorities as well as numerous intermediate goals, including: 1) the development and strengthening the use of Federal level surveillance data to identify priorities, trends, and emerging issues; 2) the development of new activities to expand the scope of surveillance for priority conditions not covered by existing surveillance activities; and 3) facilitating the development of the next generation of occupational health researchers, particularly minority investigators.
Funding Source: The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) Research Grant 1R03OH010124.