Are occupational physical activities tailored to the age of cleaners and manufacturing workers?

  • Jodi OakmanEmail author
  • Els Clays
  • Marie Birk Jørgensen
  • Andreas Holtermann
Original Article



An ageing population will necessitate people to work for longer. High occupational physical activities (OPA) are a well-documented barrier to sustainable employment. Blue-collar workers are at high risk for early exit from the labour market, which may be prevented by improved tailoring of OPA to the capacities of ageing workers. However, little is known about the current approaches used in blue collar workplaces. This study investigated age and OPA using objective field measurements in the cleaning and manufacturing sector.


Associations were examined between age and percentage of working time of three OPA: total time on feet, standing still and walking, among 615 cleaners and manufacturing workers from the Danish Physical Activity cohort with Objective measurements (DPhacto). OPA were measured over 3–4 days with accelerometers. Regression modeling was used to investigate the relationship between age and the respective OPA stratified by the two sectors after adjustment for potential confounders.


No tendency for negative associations between age and OPA were found for either sector. To the contrary, a positive association between age and high levels of time on feet was found for male manufacturing workers (OR 1.05; 95% CI 1.02–1.08 per year).


Using objective measurements of OPA, this study found that OPA are not tailored to the age of workers. To the contrary, some older workers are more likely to have higher OPA. A need exists for further investigation and development of guidelines to support job design that will enable older workers to remain employed.


Accelerometer Ageing Physical demands Occupational physical activity Objective measures 



The study was funded by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical considerations

The present study was conducted according to the Helsinki Declaration and approved by the Danish data protection agency and local ethics committee (H-2-2012-011).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Public HealthGhent University, University Hospital, 4K3GhentBelgium
  3. 3.National Research Centre for the Working EnvironmentCopenhagenDenmark

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