Do Scaffolders Have An Increased Risk of Premature Death?


    Ever been told that too much exercise is bad for you?

    Well, in a way, they might have been right. Researchers have found new evidence to suggest that males who have highly physical jobs – such as scaffolders – are at an increased risk of dying earlier than those that do not have to undertake physical activity during their working day.

    Scaffolders have a Physical Job
    Image Credit: CN

    The general guidelines suggest that everybody should complete at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on a daily basis. However, these guidelines have never considered the general amount of physical activity that is done over a (working) day and therefore the distinguish between what constitutes your required 30 minutes a day is ambiguous.

    The research was conducted by Dr. Pieter Coenen of the medical department at the Free University of Amsterdam (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam). They conducted a meta analysis of 33 other studies involving just under 200,000 subjects by using their data to get a big picture of the consequences of highly physical jobs – or ‘’occupational physical activity’’. Their findings indicated that males who work in manual and physical jobs are 18% more likely to die young than those that do not. In practice, this means that due to the amount and/or intensity of physical activity that scaffolders put their bodies through in a working day could cause complications in the not so distant future. Interestingly, the same was not found to be true with female workers and actually pointed to the opposite being true.

    This would mean the recommended amount of physical activity should be offset for those working in construction, factories, and even healthcare to accommodate their working exercise i.e. those with physical jobs should have a lower recommended amount of weekly exercise than those that do less strenuous jobs. It could even suggest that it is possible that too much exercise is not just bad for us, but could be fatal.

    However, the study has received a bit of a battering within the academic community and academics have pointed to numerous other reasons why this finding may be misleading. One argument against the results was that jobs such as construction include a lot of risks and potential accidents. Accidents can occur from factors other than the required physicality of the job such as working at heights and using machinery which can lead to poorer health. Another argument against the study was that such roles are occupied by working class people who may be under other stresses such as financial worries, or worrying about their job security.

    It is nothing new to test the health consequences of specific jobs and plenty has also been suggested about low amounts of physical activity within the workplace may also lead to health complications.

    The full study can be found in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.