Risk of fatality from diseases and injuries caused by alcohol, drugs and sexual habits differs significantly between professions. A recent study published in the scientific journal, Occupational Medicine, performed a detailed study of 1.6 million deaths over a decade and found the rates of death from diseases and injuries related to alcohol, sexual habits and drugs were much higher in particular jobs.

Incredibly, painters, bricklayers, plasterers, roofers and those working in the artistic and literary professions had approximately twice the average rate of death from drug abuse.

Merchant seamen and people working in pubs and catering had much higher risks of alcohol-related death. Tailors, dressmakers and male hairdressers had nine times the average risk of death from HIV infection.

Although it should be recognised that diseases and injuries that caused these deaths are unlikely to be a direct result of one’s vocation, the report is important for showing opportunities for preventive action. The Society of Occupational Medicine has claimed that, by prioritising and targeting employees who work in the jobs concerned with preventive measures, lives can be saved.

Olivia Carlton, president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, said: “The workplace is an ideal environment to pick up on drug and alcohol problems and to put in place policies to improve safety and productivity and to help workers. Problems can come to light because a workers performance is affected, they may develop mental health problems or they may be off work more often”.

David Coggon, who led the study, added: “This study demonstrates that there are major differences between occupational groups in their risk of death from drug and alcohol-related diseases. The findings are important because they indicate opportunities for targeted interventions to prevent illness and promote health.”