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Manufacturing & Health

There are over 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States, representing almost 9 percent of the workforce. Manufacturing workers have historically earned higher wages than similar workers in other industries, and are more likely to be offered health insurance. However, manufacturing workers and communities have higher rates of:

  • Smoking
  • Physical Inactivity/Obesity
  • Binge Drinking
  • Inadequate Sleep
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Deaths

The goal of the Manufacturing and Health Research Program is to generate evidence to improve the health of manufacturing employees and communities while also improving the value of health spending for companies.

What We Do

  • Design and evaluate interventions to improve the value of health spending by employers
  • Conduct interviews and focus groups with company leaders, managers and frontline employees to obtain perspectives on emerging issues
  • Assess the current state of evidence on health and wellness benefit designs and other workforce policies
  • Monitor trends in community health and estimate the impact of community health on company success
  • Analyze company health claims to identify areas for improvement in benefit design and employee health

Latest Research

Healthy Hearts in Manufacturing. Currently ongoing, the Healthy Hearts in Manufacturing study will introduce evidence-based interventions for hypertension and tobacco cessation in 12 randomly selected worksite clinics that serve manufacturing workers and their families. We will evaluate whether HHM is associated with improved hypertension control and tobacco screening and cessation intervention, and estimate the health care savings for the companies and Medicare. For more information, please visit the Healthy Hearts in Manufacturing Website.

Manufacturing and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our team has demonstrated that closure of large manufacturing plants during the COVID-19 pandemic was associated with reduced community spread of the COVID-19 virus. We have also described the actions used by large manufacturers to promote uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, and factors that facilitated and hindered coordination with local public health departments. Additionally, doctoral student Alexandra Harris led a publication showing that large manufacturers are well-positioned to amplify public health messages like the uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Shift Work and Health. Our team has demonstrated that shift work is detrimental to the well-being of workers, physically and socially. Doctoral student Adovich Rivera conducted a meta-analysis demonstrating the link between shift work and several chronic health conditions. Our team has also shown that shift work leads to higher health care costs for employers.

Manufacturing and Public Health. Our research has shown that the health of the community can influence the productivity of manufacturing workers. Our team has also demonstrated that large businesses are investing in public health through corporate philanthropy, but those efforts are usually not coordinated with local public health leaders.

Additional Resources:

Profile of Anchor Businesses in the United States

Authors: McHugh, Ye, Maechling, and Holl

Opioid Use Disorder in the Manufacturing Environment

Authors: McHugh, Farley




McHugh, Megan Colleen

McHugh, Megan Colleen

Associate Professor, Emergency Medicine

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