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Effect of de-industrialisation on working conditions and self reported health in a sample of manufacturing workers


Study objective: To explore the impact of de-industrialisation over a 20 year period on working conditions and health among sawmill workers, in the province of British Columbia (BC), Canada.

Design and Setting: This investigation is based on a sample of 3000 sawmill workers employed in 1979 (a year before the beginning de-industrialisation) and interviewed in 1998. The sample was obtained by random selection from an already gathered cohort of approximately 28 000 BC sawmill workers. Change in working conditions from 1979 to 1998 are described. Self reported health status, in 1998, was used as a dependent variable in logistic regression after controlling for confounders.

Main results: Downsizing in BC sawmills eliminated 60% of workers between 1979 and 1998. Working conditions in 1998 were better for those who left the sawmill industry and obtained re-employment elsewhere. Workers who remained employed in restructuring sawmills were approximately 50% more likely to report poor health than those re-employed elsewhere.

Conclusions: Working conditions and health status were better for workers who, under pressure of de-industrialisation, left the sawmill industry and obtained re-employment outside this sector.

  • de-industrialisation
  • working conditions

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