Company characteristics and workplace medical testing.
Am J Publ Health 1995 Aug; 85(8)(1):1070-1075
The influence of company economic characteristics and workplace hazards on the prevalence of workplace medical testing was examined. Data were taken from 2,605 manufacturing companies that participated in the National Occupational Hazards Survey (NOHS) and the National Occupational Exposure Survey (NOES). The surveys were conducted by NIOSH and evaluated potential exposures to occupational hazards, the prevalence of medical testing, and unionization in the companies. Data on employee turnover and wages of the companies were obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Associations between the workplace characteristics and the frequency of preemployment medical testing and periodic medical monitoring were examined by logistic regression techniques. Altogether, 1,309 companies had fewer than 100 employees (small), 903 had 100 to 499 employees (medium), and 453 had 500 or more employees (large). The NOHS found that the overall proportion of companies performing periodic monitoring such as audiometric or pulmonary testing or blood, urine, or X-ray evaluations was 5 to 7%, which increased to 9 to 11% in the NOES. A larger proportion of small and medium size firms whose workers were exposed to loud noise performed more audiometric testing than those with no employee noise exposures. Otherwise, few consistent associations between workplace hazards and medical monitoring were seen. In both surveys, firms that performed medical monitoring were larger, usually unionized, and had lower employee turnover. Companies which paid higher wages were more likely to perform medical monitoring. Regression analysis revealed that larger company size, unionization, and paying higher wages were the strongest predictors of preemployment and periodic medical testing. Only weak associations were seen between the presence of occupational hazards and medical testing. The authors conclude that economic variables strongly influence the prevalence of workplace medical testing and appear to be much more important than exposure to workplace hazards, indicating that company medical testing decisions may not necessarily benefit the health of their employees.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Occupational-health-programs; Work-environment; Medical-examinations; Occupational-hazards; Medical-screening; Industrial-factory-workers; Occupational-exposure;
Leslie I. Boden, PhD, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, 80 E Concord St, Boston, MA 02118
Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other
American Journal of Public Health
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts