Occupational Injuries Among Older Workers With Disabilities: A Prospective Cohort Study of the Health and Retirement Survey, 1992 to 1994

Objectives. We tested the hypothesis that among older workers, disabilities in general, and hearing and visual impairments in particular, are risk factors for occupational injuries. Methods. Using the first 2 interviews of the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of Americans aged 51 to 61 years, we conducted a prospective cohort study of 5600 employed nonfarmers. Results. Testing a logistic regression model developed in a previous cross-sectional study, we found that the following occupations and risk factors were associated with occupational injury as estimated by odds ratios: service personnel, odds ratio = 1.71 (95% confidence interval = 1.13, 2.57); mechanics and repairers, 3.47 (1.98, 6.10); operators and assemblers, 2.33 (1.51, 3.61); laborers, 3.16 (1.67, 5.98); jobs requiring heavy lifting, 2.05 (1.55, 2.70); self-employment, 0.50 (0.34, 0.73); and self-reported disability, 1.58 (1.14, 2.19). Replacing the general disability variable with specific hearing and visual impairment variables, we found that poor hearing (1.35 [0.95, 1.93]) and poor sight (1.45 [0.94, 2.22]) both had elevated odds ratios. Conclusions. Poor sight and poor hearing, as well as work disabilities in general, are as associated with occupational injuries among older workers. (Am J Public Health. 1998;88: 1691-1695)