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1.  Musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers: a one-year follow-up study 
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are an important cause of functional impairments and disability among construction workers. An improved understanding of MSDs in different construction occupations is likely to be of value for selecting preventive measures. This study aimed to survey the prevalence of symptoms of MSDs, the work-relatedness of the symptoms and the problems experienced during work among two construction occupations: bricklayers and supervisors.
We randomly selected 750 bricklayers and 750 supervisors resident in the Netherlands in December 2009. This sample was surveyed by means of a baseline questionnaire and a follow-up questionnaire one year later. The participants were asked about complaints of the musculoskeletal system during the last six months, the perceived work-relatedness of the symptoms, the problems that occurred during work and the occupational tasks that were perceived as causes or aggravating factors of the MSD.
Baseline response rate was 37%, follow-up response was 80%. The prevalence of MSDs among 267 bricklayers and 232 supervisors was 67% and 57%, respectively. Complaints of the back, knee and shoulder/upper arm were the most prevalent among both occupations. Irrespective of the body region, most of the bricklayers and supervisors reported that their complaints were work-related. Complaints of the back and elbow were the most often reported among the bricklayers during work, whereas lower arm/wrist and upper leg complaints were the most often reported among the supervisors. In both occupations, a majority of the participants perceived several occupational physical tasks and activities as causes or aggravating factors for their MSD. Recurrent complaints at follow-up were reported by both bricklayers (47% of the complaints) and supervisors (31% of the complaints). Participants in both occupations report that mainly back and knee complaints result in additional problems during work, at the time of follow-up.
A substantial number of the bricklayers and the supervisors report musculoskeletal disorders, mainly back, knee and shoulder/upper arm complaints. The majority of the bricklayers and half of the supervisors believe that their complaints are work-related. Irrespective of occupation, participants with MSDs report substantial problems during work. Workplace intervention measures aimed at occupational physical tasks and activities seem justified for both occupations.
PMCID: PMC3489781  PMID: 23061990
Construction industry; Longitudinal study; Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
2.  Work-related musculoskeletal discomfort of dairy farmers and employed workers 
Dairy farming is physically demanding and associated with a high frequency of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). This study investigated and compared work-related MSD, ergonomic work factors and physical exertion in farmers and employed farm workers on dairy farms in Sweden.
The study comprised 66 dairy farmers, and 37 employed dairy farm workers. A modified version of the general Standardised Nordic Questionnaire was used for analyses of perceived MSD in nine different parts of the body. Perceived physical discomfort was assessed using questions concerning ergonomic work factors. A rating scale was used for analyses of perceived physical exertion. Information about participant demographics was also collected. The response rate amounted to 70%.
The most frequently reported MSD in farmers and farm workers were located in the lower back (50% and 43%, respectively) and the shoulders (47% and 43%, respectively). MSD were also frequently reported in the neck (33%) among farmers, and in the hands/wrist (41%) among farm workers. MSD in the elbows (23%) and feet (21%) were significantly more frequently reported by farmers than farm workers (5%). Female farmers and farm workers both reported significantly higher frequencies of MSD in the neck (48% and 56%, respectively) and hands/wrists (44% and 61%, respectively) than their male colleagues (24% and 5%; 10% and 21%, respectively). In addition, female farm workers had significantly higher reported frequencies of MSD in the upper and lower back (39% and 61%, respectively) than their male counterparts (5% and 26%, respectively). Milking was perceived as a weakly to moderately physically demanding work task. Repetitive and monotonous work in dairy houses was the ergonomic work factor most frequently reported as causing physically discomfort among farmers (36%) and farm workers (32%), followed by lifting heavy objects (17% and 27%, respectively). Female workers had significantly more reported discomfort from repetitive and monotonous work than their male counterparts (50% and 16%, respectively).
Despite the technical developments on modern dairy farms, there is still a high prevalence of MSD and discomfort from ergonomic work factors, particularly among female workers.
PMCID: PMC3534013  PMID: 23152974
Ergonomic work factors; Work environment; Physical exertion; Dairy farming; Milking; Agriculture; Questionnaire; Rating scale
3.  Work disability benefits due to musculoskeletal disorders among Brazilian private sector workers 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000003.
To evaluate the prevalence and characteristics of disability benefits due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) granted to Brazilian private sector workers.
This was a population-based epidemiological study of MSD-related benefits among registered private sector workers (n=32 959 329). The prevalence (benefits/10 000 workers/year) of work disability benefits was calculated by gender, age, state, Human Development Index (HDI), economic activity, MSD type and work-relatedness.
The prevalence of MSD-related benefits in Brazil among registered private sector workers in 2008 was 93.6/10 000 workers. The prevalence increased with age, and was higher for women (112.2) than for men (88.1), although the former had shorter benefit duration. The gender-adjusted prevalence by state varied from 16.6 to 90.3 for non-work-related, and from 7.8 to 59.6 for work-related benefits. The Brazilian states with a high–very high HDI had the highest prevalence. The top four most common types of MSD-related benefits were due to back pain, intervertebral disc disorders, sinovitis/tenosynovitis and shoulder disorders.
MSD is a frequent cause of work disability in Brazil. There were differences in prevalence among economic activities and between states grouped by HDI. This study demonstrates that further evaluation of the contributing factors associated with MSD-related disability benefits is required. Factors that should be considered include production processes, political organisation, socioeconomic and educational characteristics, the compensation and recording systems, and employee–employer power relationships. These factors may play an important role in the prevalence of MSD-related disability benefits, especially in countries with large socioeconomic iniquities such as Brazil.
Article summary
Article focus
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a major cause of disability worldwide.
The prevalence and distribution of MSD among Brazilian workers are not well known.
This article evaluates the prevalence and characteristics of disability benefits due to MSD granted to Brazilian private sector workers.
Key messages
The prevalence of MSD-related benefits among registered Brazilian private sector workers in 2008 was 93.6/10 000 workers, with the top four most common benefits being due to back pain, intervertebral disc disorders, sinovitis/tenosynovitis and shoulder disorders.
This study demonstrates that further evaluation of the contributing factors associated with MSD-related disability benefits is required and should assess the production processes, political organisation, socioeconomic and educational characteristics, the compensation and recording systems, and employee–employer power relationships.
These factors may play an important role in the prevalence of MSD-related disability benefits, especially in countries with large socioeconomic iniquities such as Brazil.
Strengths and limitations of this study
All employed workers with a registered job in the private sector were analysed (32 959 329 workers). Prevalence was adjusted by gender, age and category of benefit (work-related or non-work-related). This initial descriptive study provides some baseline data on the magnitude of the problem. The data may be used for future comparisons and to evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs. The strength of this paper is that it supplies information which could be useful in the implementation of an occupational health policy to reduce MSD. One of the limitations is that it only includes data from registered workers although there are many non-registered workers in Brazil. Another limitation is that this study depends on the quality of the data recorded by the National Insurer (NI) of the Brazilian Ministry of Social Insurance.
PMCID: PMC3191405  PMID: 22021719
4.  Hearing loss in the royal Norwegian navy: a cross-sectional study 
Prior studies have indicated a high prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) among Navy personnel; however, it is not clear whether this is caused by work on board. The present study aimed to assess the prevalence of hearing loss among Navy personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN), and to investigate whether there is an association between work on board RNoN vessels and occurrence of hearing loss.
Navy personnel currently working on board RNoN vessels were recruited to complete a questionnaire on noise exposure and health followed by pure tone audiometry. Hearing loss was defined as hearing threshold levels ≥25 dB in either ear at the frequencies 3,000, 4,000 or 6,000 Hz. Hearing thresholds were adjusted for age and gender using ISO 7029.
The prevalence of hearing loss among Navy personnel was 31.4 %. The work exposure variables: years of work in the Navy, years on vessel(s) in the Navy and years of sailing in the Navy were associated with reduced hearing after adjusting for age, gender and otitis as an adult. Among the work exposure variables, years of sailing in the Navy was the strongest predictor of reduced hearing, and significantly reduced hearing was found at the frequencies 1,000, 3,000 and 4,000 Hz.
Our results indicate that time spent on board vessels in the RNoN is a predictor of reduced hearing.
PMCID: PMC4435635  PMID: 25287192
Audiometry; Hearing conservation; Hearing loss; Noise exposure; Noise-induced hearing loss
5.  Prevalence and risk factors for foot and ankle musculoskeletal disorders experienced by nurses 
Nurses are at high risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Although the prevalence of MSDs of the lower back, upper limbs, neck and shoulders have been reported previously in nursing, few studies have evaluated MSDs of the foot and ankle. This study evaluated the prevalence of foot and ankle MSDs in nurses and their relation to individual and workplace risk factors.
A self-administered survey incorporating the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire (NMQ) was distributed, over a nine-week period, to all eligible nurses (n = 416) working in a paediatric hospital in Brisbane, Australia. The prevalence of MSDs for each of the NMQ body regions was determined. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between activity-limiting foot/ankle MSDs and risk factors related to the individual (age, body mass index, number of existing foot conditions, smoking history, general physical health [SF36 Physical Component Scale], footwear features) or the workplace (level of nursing position, work location, average hours worked, hours worked in previous week, time since last break from work).
A 73% response rate was achieved with 304 nurses completing surveys, of whom 276 were females (91%). Mean age of the nurses was 37 years (±10), younger than the state average of 43 years. Foot/ankle MSDs were the most prevalent conditions experienced by nurses during the preceding seven days (43.8%, 95% CI 38.2-49.4%), the second most prevalent MSDs to impair physical activity (16.7%, 95% CI 13.0-21.3%), and the third most prevalent MSD, after lower-back and neck problems, during the preceding 12 months (55.3%, 95% CI 49.6-60.7%). Of the nurse and work characteristics investigated, obesity, poor general physical health, existing foot conditions and working in the intensive care unit emerged as statistically significant (p < 0.05) independent risk factors for activity-limiting foot/ankle MSDs.
Foot/ankle MSDs are common in paediatric hospital nurses and resulted in physical activity limitations in one out of every six nurses. We recommend targeted education programs regarding the prevention, self-management and treatment strategies for foot/ankle MSDs. Further research is needed into the impact of work location and extended shift durations on foot/ankle MSDs.
PMCID: PMC4061517  PMID: 24902582
6.  High and specialty-related musculoskeletal disorders afflict dental professionals even since early training years 
Journal of Applied Oral Science  2013;21(4):376-382.
To determine how early musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) develop in dental professionals and to explore the potential differences among distinct dental specialties.
Material and Methods
271 dental postgraduates majoring in five dental specialties were recruited, i.e., orthodontics, prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics and alveolar surgery. 254 age-matched non-dental postgraduates served as the control. The standardized Nordic questionnaire on MSDs and a self-report questionnaire regarding correlative factors (only for dental postgraduates) were answered through emails. Reliability of responses was assessed applying test-retest method.
The intraclass correlation coefficient of participants' answers ranged from 0.89 to 0.96. Dental postgraduates had significantly higher prevalence of MSDs than the control group, especially at neck, upper back and lower back. In all dental specialties included, high prevalence of MSDs was reported at neck (47.5%-69.8%), shoulders (50.8%-65.1%), lower back (27.1%-51.2%) and upper back (25.6%-46.5%), with lower prevalence at elbows (5.1%-18.6%), hips (3.4%-16.3%) and ankles (5.1%-11.6%). Periodontics students reported the worst MSDs in most body regions except wrists and knees, which were more prevalent for prosthodontic and alveolar surgery students, respectively. Furthermore, year of clinical work, clinical hours per week and desk hours per week were found as risk factors for MSDs, whereas physical exercise and rest between patients as protective factors.
High and specialty-related MSDs afflict dental professionals even since very early stage of careers. Prevention aimed at the specialty-related characteristics and the risk/protective factors revealed in this study should be introduced to dental personnel as early as possible.
PMCID: PMC3881886  PMID: 24037079
Occupational health; Musculoskeletal diseases; Specialty; Dentists; Dental education
7.  Musculoskeletal disorder risk factors among nursing professionals in low resource settings: a cross-sectional study in Uganda 
BMC Nursing  2014;13:7.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) constitute one of the main occupational hazards among health care workers. However, few epidemiological studies on work related MSD among nursing professionals have been carried out in Africa. The purpose of this study was to assess the work related musculoskeletal disorders and associated risk factors among nursing professionals in Uganda.
This was a cross-sectional study of MSD among 880 nursing professionals from five selected hospitals in Uganda. Data was collected using a questionnaire adapted from the Dutch Musculoskeletal and Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaires. Descriptive (mean, standard deviation and percentages) and inferential (Chi square test and logistic regression analysis) statistics were used to analyse data. Alpha level was set at p < 0.05.
A total of 741 completed questionnaires were analysed (response rate 85.4%). The average age of the respondents was 35.4 (SD 10.7) years and a majority were female (85.7%). The average working hours per week was 43.7 (SD 18.9 hours). The 12-month period-prevalence of MSD at anybody site was 80.8%. The most common site of MSD was the lower back (61.9%). Significant risk factors for reported MSD included often working in a slightly bent posture (adjOR 2.25, 95% CI 1.20-4.26), often working in a slightly twisted posture for long (adjOR 1.97, 95% CI 1.03-3.77), mental exhaustion (adjOR 2.05, 95% CI 1.17-3.5), being absent from the work station for more than 6 months due to illness or an accident (adjO|R, 4.35, 95% CI 1.44-13.08) and feeling rested after a break (adjOR 2.09, 95% CI 1.16-3.76).
Musculoskeletal disorders affect more than 80% of nursing professionals in Uganda with the most commonly, affected site being the lower back. Significant risk factors for MSD include; being absent from the work station for more than 6 months due to illness or an accident, working in awkward postures, pushing/pulling of heavy loads and mental exhaustion. There is a need for greater advocacy, better working conditions and adoption of strategies to reduce occupational injuries.
PMCID: PMC3940025  PMID: 24565421
Musculoskeletal disorders; Risk factors; Uganda
8.  Noise exposure and cognitive performance: A study on personnel on board Royal Norwegian Navy vessels 
Noise & Health  2015;17(78):320-327.
Prior research shows that work on board vessels of the Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) is associated with noise exposure levels above recommended standards. Further, noise exposure has been found to impair cognitive performance in environmental, occupational, and experimental settings, although prior research in naval and maritime settings is sparse. The aim of this study was to evaluate cognitive performance after exposure to noise among personnel working on board vessels in the RNoN. Altogether 87 Navy personnel (80 men, 7 women; 31 ± 9 years) from 24 RNoN vessels were included. Noise exposure was recorded by personal noise dosimeters at a minimum of 4 h prior to testing, and categorized into 4 groups for the analysis: <72.6 dB(A), 72.6-77.0 dB(A), 77.1-85.2 dB(A), and >85.2 dB(A). The participants performed a visual attention test based on the Posner cue-target paradigm. Multivariable general linear model (GLM) analyses were performed to analyze whether noise exposure was associated with response time (RT) when adjusting for the covariates age, alertness, workload, noise exposure in test location, sleep the night before testing, use of hearing protection device (HPD), and percentage of errors. When adjusting for covariates, RT was significantly increased among personnel exposed to >85.2 dB(A) and 77.1-85.2 dB(A) compared to personnel exposed to <72.6 dB(A).
PMCID: PMC4900491  PMID: 26356374
Cognitive performance; Navy; noise exposure; Posner cue-target paradigm; vessels; visual attention
9.  Low back pain and widespread pain predict sickness absence among industrial workers 
The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) in the aluminium industry is high, and there is a considerable work-related fraction. More knowledge about the predictors of sickness absence from MSD in this industry will be valuable in determining strategies for prevention. The aim of this study was to analyse the relative impact of body parts, psychosocial and individual factors as predictors for short- and long-term sickness absence from MSD among industrial workers.
A follow-up study was conducted among all the workers at eight aluminium plants in Norway. A questionnaire was completed by 5654 workers at baseline in 1998. A total of 3320 of these participated in the follow-up study in 2000. Cox regression analysis was applied to investigate the relative impact of MSD in various parts of the body and of psychosocial and individual factors reported in 1998 on short-term and long-term sickness absence from MSD reported in 2000.
MSD accounted for 45% of all working days lost the year prior to follow-up in 2000. Blue-collar workers had significantly higher risk than white-collar workers for both short- and long-term sickness absence from MSD (long-term sickness absence: RR = 3.04, 95% CI 2.08–4.45). Widespread and low back pain in 1998 significantly predicted both short- and long-term sickness absence in 2000. In addition, shoulder pain predicted long-term sickness absence. Low social support predicted short-term sickness absence (RR = 1.28, 95% CI 1.11–1.49).
Reducing sickness absence from MSD among industrial workers requires focusing on the working conditions of blue-collar workers and risk factors for low back pain and widespread pain. Increasing social support in the work environment may have effects in reducing short-term sickness absence from MSD.
PMCID: PMC200978  PMID: 12956891
sickness absence; musculoskeletal disorders; low back pain; widespread pain; blue-collar workers; social support
10.  Work-life conflict and musculoskeletal disorders: a cross-sectional study of an unexplored association 
The health consequences of work-family or rather work-life conflict (WLC) have been studied by numerous researchers. The work-related causes of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are also well explored. And stress (at work) has been found to be a consequence of WLC as well as a cause of MSD. But very little is known about a potential association between WLC and MSD and the possible mediating role of stress in this relationship.
Survey data collected in 2007 among the workforces of four large companies in Switzerland were used for this study. The study population covered 6091 employees. As the exposure variable and hypothesized risk factor for MSD, WLC was measured by using a 10-item scale based on an established 18-item scale on work-family conflict. The outcome variables used as indicators of MSD were (low) back pain and neck/shoulder pain. Stress as the assumed intervening variable was assessed by a validated single-item measure of general stress perception. Correlation coefficients (r), standardized regression coefficients (β) and multiple adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated as measures of association.
WLC was found to be quite strongly associated with MSD (β = .21). This association turned out to be substantially confounded by physical strain at work, workload and job autonomy and was considerably reduced but far from being completely eliminated after adjusting for general stress as another identified risk factor of MSD and a proven strong correlate of WLC (r = .44). A significant and relevant association still remained (β = .10) after having controlled for all considered covariates. This association could be fully attributed to only one direction of WLC, namely the work-to-life conflict. In subsequent analyses, a clear gradient between this WLC direction and both types of MSD was found, and proved to be consistent for both men and women. Employees who were most exposed to such work-to-life conflict were also most at risk and showed a fivefold higher prevalence rate (19%-42%) and also an up to sixfold increased relative risk (OR = 3.8-6.3) of suffering greatly from these types of MSD compared with the least exposed reference group showing very low WLC in this direction. Including stress in the regression models again reduced the strength of the association significantly (OR = 1.9-4.1), giving an indication for a possible indirect effect of WLC on MSD mediated by stress.
Future research and workplace interventions for the prevention of MSD need to consider WLC as an important stressor, and the MSD risk factor identified in this study.
PMCID: PMC3073966  PMID: 21410950
11.  Self-Reported Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Distal Upper Extremities and the Neck in German Veterinarians: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89362.
Veterinary work is a physically demanding profession and entails the risk of injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system, particularly in the upper body. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), the consequences and work-related accidents in German veterinarians were investigated. Work-related and individual factors associated with MSD of upper extremities and the neck were analyzed.
In 2011, a self-reporting Standardized Nordic Questionnaire was mailed to registered veterinarians in seven federal medical associations in Germany. A total of 3174 (38.4%) veterinarians responded. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association between risk factors and MSD-related impairment of daily activities.
MSD in the neck (66.6%) and shoulder (60.5%) were more prevalent than in the hand (34.5%) or elbow (24.5%). Normal activities were affected in 28.7% (neck), 29.5% (shoulder), 19.4% (hand) and 14% (elbow) of the respondents. MSD in the upper body occurred significantly more often in large animal practitioners. Accidents that resulted in MSD were most frequently reported in the hand/wrist (14.3%) or in the shoulder (10.8%). The majority of all accidents in the distal upper extremities were caused by animals than by other factors (19% vs. 9.2%). For each area of the body, a specific set of individual and work-related factors contributed significantly to severe MSD: Older age, gender, previous injuries, BMI, practice type, veterinary procedures such as dentistry, rectal procedures and obstetric procedures as well as high demands and personal burnout.
From the perspective of occupational health and safety, it seems to be necessary to improve accident prevention and to optimize the ergonomics of specific tasks. Our data suggest the need for target group-specific preventive measures that also focus on the psychological factors at work.
PMCID: PMC3929685  PMID: 24586718
12.  Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the automotive industry due to repetitive work - implications for rehabilitation 
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) due to repetitive work are common in manufacturing industries, such as the automotive industry. However, it's still unclear which MSDs of the upper limb are to be expected in the automotive industry in a first aid unit as well as in occupational precaution examinations. It is also unclear which examination method could be performed effectively for practical reasons and under rehabilitation aspects. Additionally, it was to discuss whether the conception of unspecific description for MSDs has advantages or disadvantages in contrast to a precise medical diagnosis.
We investigated the health status of two study populations working at two automotive plants in Germany. The first part included 67 consecutive patients who were seen for acute or chronic MSDs at the forearm over a 4-month period at the plants' medical services. Information about patients' working conditions and musculoskeletal symptoms was obtained during a standardized interview, which was followed by a standardized orthopedic-chiropractic physical examination. In the second part, 209 workers with daily exposure to video display terminals (VDT) completed a standardized questionnaire and were examined with function-oriented muscular tests on the occasion of their routine occupational precaution medical check-up.
The majority of the 67 patients seen by the company's medical services were blue-collar works from the assembly lines and trainees rather than white-collar workers from offices. Rates of musculoskeletal complaints were disproportionately higher among experienced people performing new tasks and younger trainees. The most common MSD in this group were disorders of flexor tendons of the forearm. By contrast, among the 209 employees working at VDT disorders of the neck and shoulders were more common than discomfort in the forearm. A positive tendency between restricted rotation of the cervical vertebrae and years worked at VDT was observed. In addition, only less than 8% of unspecific disorders of the upper limb (esp. wrist and forearm) were found.
Functional tests for the upper limb seemed to be very helpful to give precise medical advice to the employees to prevent individual complaints. The results are also helpful for developing specific training programs before beginning new tasks as well as for rehabilitation reasons. There's no need to use uncertain terminology (such as RSI) as it may not be representative of the actual underlying disorders as diagnosed by more thorough physical examinations.
PMCID: PMC2907870  PMID: 20374621
13.  Requirements for more effective prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders 
Exposures to occupational hazards substantially increase workers’ risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and can exacerbate pre-existing disorders. The effects on MSD risk of the physical requirements of work performance are well recognised, but there is now ample evidence that work-related psychosocial hazards can also have substantial effects; further, some hazards may be additive or interactive. This evidence is not reflected in current workplace risk management practices.
Barriers to more effective workplace management of MSD risk include: the widespread belief that risk arises largely or entirely from physical hazard exposures; regulatory and guidance documents targeting MSDs, most of which reflect this belief; risk assessment tools that focus narrowly on subsets of mainly physical hazards and yet generate outputs in the form of MSD risk indicators; and the conventional occupational health and safety (OHS) risk management paradigm, which is ill-suited to manage MSD risk.
It is argued that improved workplace management of MSD risk requires a systems-based management framework and more holistic risk assessment and control procedures that address risk from all types of hazard together rather than in isolation from each other, and that support participation by workers themselves. New MSD risk management tools are needed to meet these requirements.
Further, successful implementation of such changes is likely to require some restructuring of workplace responsibilities for MSD risk management. Line managers and supervisors often play key roles in generating hazards, both physical and psychosocial, so there is a need for their more active participation, along with OHS personnel and workers themselves, in routine risk assessment and control procedures.
MSDs are one of our largest OHS problems, but workplace risk management procedures do not reflect current evidence concerning their work-related causes. Inadequate attention is given to assessing and controlling risk from psychosocial hazards, and the conventional risk management paradigm focuses too narrowly on risk from individual hazards rather than promoting the more holistic approach needed to manage the combined effects of all relevant hazards. Achievement of such changes requires new MSD risk management tools and better integration of the roles of OHS personnel with those of line managers.
PMCID: PMC4606837  PMID: 26466897
Musculoskeletal disorders; Risk management; Work-related; Psychosocial; Manual handling; Hazards; Systems
14.  Work-organisational and personal factors associated with upper body musculoskeletal disorders among sewing machine operators 
To assess the contribution of work-organisational and personal factors to the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) among garment workers in Los Angeles.
This is a cross-sectional study of self-reported musculoskeletal symptoms among 520 sewing machine operators from 13 garment industry sewing shops. Detailed information on work-organisational factors, personal factors, and musculoskeletal symptoms were obtained in face-to-face interviews. The outcome of interest, upper body WMSD, was defined as a worker experiencing moderate or severe musculoskeletal pain. Unconditional logistic regression models were adopted to assess the association between both work-organisational factors and personal factors and the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain.
The prevalence of moderate or severe musculoskeletal pain in the neck/shoulder region was 24% and for distal upper extremity it was 16%. Elevated prevalence of upper body pain was associated with age less than 30 years, female gender, Hispanic ethnicity, being single, having a diagnosis of a MSD or a systemic illness, working more than 10 years as a sewing machine operator, using a single sewing machine, work in large shops, higher work–rest ratios, high physical exertion, high physical isometric loads, high job demand, and low job satisfaction.
Work-organisational and personal factors were associated with increased prevalence of moderate or severe upper body musculoskeletal pain among garment workers. Owners of sewing companies may be able to reduce or prevent WMSDs among employees by adopting rotations between different types of workstations thus increasing task variety; by either shortening work periods or increasing rest periods to reduce the work–rest ratio; and by improving the work-organisation to control psychosocial stressors. The findings may guide prevention efforts in the garment sector and have important public health implications for this workforce of largely immigrant labourers.
PMCID: PMC2095384  PMID: 17522131
work organisation; musculoskeletal disorder; ergonomic; psychosocial; sewing machine
15.  Assessing the impact of waste picking on musculoskeletal disorders among waste pickers in Mumbai, India: a cross-sectional study 
BMJ Open  2015;5(9):e008474.
To assess the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as well as the impact of the occupation of waste picking on complaints of MSDs among waste pickers. The study attempts to understand the risk factors for MSDs in various areas of the body.
A cross-sectional household survey was conducted using a case-control design. The survey instrument for measuring musculoskeletal symptoms was adopted from a standardised Nordic questionnaire. The impact of the occupation of waste picking on MSDs was analysed using the propensity score matching (PSM) method.
The study population consisted of waste pickers (n=200) who had been working for at least a year and a control group (n=213) selected from among or living close to the same communities.
The 12-month prevalence of MSDs was higher among waste pickers (79%) compared to controls (55%) particularly in the lower back (54–36%), knee (48–35%), upper back (40–21%) and shoulder (32–12%). Similar patterns were observed in the 12-month prevalence of MSDs which prevented normal activity inside and outside the home, particularly for the lower back (36–21%), shoulder (21–7%) and upper back (25–12%) for waste pickers and controls. Analysis of the impact of waste picking on complaints of MSDs suggests that the occupation of waste picking raises the risk of MSDs particularly in the shoulder, lower and upper back. Older age and longer duration of work are significant risk factors for MSDs.
The findings suggest a relatively higher prevalence of MSDs among waste pickers, particularly in the lower and upper back and shoulder, compared to controls. Preventive measures and treatment to minimise the burden of MSDs among waste pickers are strongly recommended.
PMCID: PMC4593149  PMID: 26408284
16.  Musculoskeletal Disorders and Perceived Work Demands among Female Nurses at a Tertiary Care Hospital in India 
Introduction. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are common among nurses and can affect patient outcomes. There is a dearth of literature on MSD among Indian nurses. The study objective was to measure prevalence of MSD and their association with perceived work demands and sociodemographic variables among female nurses at a tertiary care hospital in rural India. Methods. A cross-sectional study was undertaken in 2013 through interviewer administered questionnaires which comprised three parts: sociodemographic data, modified Nordic questionnaire, and perceived physical and psychological work demands. Results. 296 nurses with a mean age of 30.4 years participated. Prevalence of any MSD in the last seven days was 60.5% with low back pain being the most common and elbow pain the least common. Occurrence of any MSD was associated with age, number of children, working hours at home, BMI, and total work experience. High perceived physical demands score was associated with lower back (OR: 3.06) and knee pain (OR: 7.73). Conclusion. Prevalence of MSD was high and occurrence of lower back and knee MSD was associated with perceived physical demands. This information should be used as a benchmark and guiding tool for designing work place interventions to improve working conditions and health of nurses.
PMCID: PMC4963572  PMID: 27493990
17.  Hearing loss in the Royal Norwegian Navy: A longitudinal study 
Noise & Health  2016;18(82):157-165.
The aims of this longitudinal study were to investigate a significant threshold shift (STS) among personnel working on board the Royal Norwegian Navy's (RNoN) vessels between 2012 and 2014 and to identify possible determinants of STS. Hearing thresholds were measured by pure tone audiometry in two consecutive examinations (n = 226). STS was defined as an average change in hearing thresholds ≥ + 10 dB at 2,000 Hz, 3,000 Hz, and 4,000 Hz in either ear. Determinants of STS were assessed through a questionnaire. The incidence of STS was 23.0%. Significant determinants of STS were the number of episodes of temporary threshold shifts (TTS) in the Navy, exposure to continuous loud noise during work on board, and the number of gun shots (in the Navy, hunting, and sports). This study indicated a significant association between noise exposure on board Navy vessels and development of STS.
PMCID: PMC4918668  PMID: 27157689
Audiometry; continuous noise exposure; hearing conservation; hearing loss; impulse noise exposure
18.  Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among brick kiln workers in rural Southern India 
A variety of musculoskeletal disorders and discomfort are seen among brick kiln workers, where heavy physical work is associated with awkward working postures and manual handling of materials, leading to significant morbidity.
Materials and Methods:
This cross-sectional study was conducted in unorganized brick kiln industries in villages of Vellore district of Tamil Nadu and included 310 brick kiln workers. Modified Nordic Questionnaire was used to survey the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders and the intensity of pain was assessed by the body pain discomfort scale.
The mean age of the workers was 37 ± 13.2 years with a range of 18-85 years. 62% (n = 192) had normal body mass index, whereas 27% (n = 85) were undernourished. The commonest posture adopted at work was squatting (67%) followed by standing (14%). Majority of workers (87%, n = 269) reported to having symptoms of pain currently of which 51% (n = 158) had pain during work. Chronic low back ache (LBA) (1 year prevalence -59%) and acute LBA (1 week prevalence-33%) were the commonest followed by chronic knee pain. More than 10 years of work was significantly associated (P < 0.05) with acute LBA and acute and chronic knee pain. Severity of the pain was also significantly (t statistic 2.476, P < 0.05) associated with job dissatisfaction.
Long-term brick kiln workers, who adopt a specific posture for prolonged periods, have severe musculoskeletal pain that interferes with activities of daily living and reduces job satisfaction. Health education on frequent postural change, implementation and monitoring of laws among unorganized industries are recommended to bring down morbidity due to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
PMCID: PMC3877450  PMID: 24421594
Brick kiln workers; low back pain; musculoskeletal disorders
19.  Evaluation of the efficacy of a short-course, personalized self-management and intensive spa therapy intervention as active prevention of musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities (Muska): a research protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) constitute a major occupational health problem in the working population, substantially impacting the quality of life of employees. They also cause considerable economic cost to the healthcare system, with, notably, the reimbursement of treatments and compensation for lost income. MSDs manifest as localized pain or functional difficulty in one or more anatomical areas, such as the cervical spine, shoulder, elbow, hand, and wrist. Although prevalence varies depending on the region considered and the method of assessment, a prevalence of 30% is found in different epidemiological studies. The disease needs to be prevented, not only for medical and economic reasons, but also for legal reasons, owing to the requirement of assessing occupational risks. The strategy envisaged may thus revolve around active, multimodal prevention that has employees fully involved at the heart of their care. Although physical exercise is widely recommended, few studies with a good level of evidence have enabled us to base a complete, well-constructed intervention on exercise that can be offered as secondary prevention in these disorders.
A prospective, multicenter, comparative (intervention arm vs. control arm), randomized (immediate vs. later treatment) study using Zelen’s design. This study falls under active prevention of MSDs of the upper extremities (UE-MSDs). Participants are workers aged between 18 and 65 years with latent or symptomatic MSDS, with any type of job or workstation, with or without an history of sick leave. The primary aim is to show the superiority at 3 months of a combination of spa therapy, exercise, and self-management workshops for 6 days over usual care in the management of MSDs in terms of employee functional capacity in personal and professional daily life. Secondary aims are to assess the benefit of the intervention in terms of pain, quality of life, and accumulated duration of sick leave.
This randomized controlled trial is the first that will aim to evaluate multidisciplinary management of UE-MSDs using nonpharmacological treatment combining exercise, self-management, and spa therapy. The originality of this intervention lies, in its short, intensive format, which is compatible with remaining in work; and in its multidisciplinary approach. This trial has the potential to demonstrate, with a good level of evidence, the benefits of a short course of spa therapy combined with a personalized self-management program on the functional capacity, pain, and quality of life of employees in their daily life.
Trial registration
Clinical NCT02702466 retrospectively registered.
Protocol: Version 4 of 9/10/2015.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12891-016-1353-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC5148841  PMID: 27938361
Musculoskeletal disorders; Exercise; Spa therapy; Prevention
20.  The Prevalence of and Risk Factors Associated with Musculoskeletal Disorders among Sonographers in Central China: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(10):e0163903.
Studies from industrialized countries show that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) occur commonly in sonographers. However, little is known about sonographers in China, where the awareness of ergonomics and MSD, workload, and available equipment/facilities may differ. We aimed to investigate the prevalence of MSD and associated risk factors in sonographers in central China.
A cross-sectional survey was conducted with 381 sonographers from 14 randomly selected tertiary hospitals in Hubei province, central China. Musculoskeletal symptoms (using the Nordic Questionnaire) and risk factors (mostly derived from the Health Benefit Trust survey instrument and the Dutch Musculoskeletal Questionnaire) were recorded. Multivariate logistic regression was used to quantify associations between risk factors and MSD.
The 12-month period prevalence of MSD was 98.3%, being highest in the neck (93.5%) and shoulder (92.2%), followed by the lower back (83.2%), wrist/hand, upper back, and elbow. Factors contributing to neck pain were psychological fatigue, shoulder abduction and trunk bend-and-twist posture. Height-adjustable tables and chairs were protective factors. Shoulder pain was associated with female sex, health status, mental stress, shoulder abduction, and trunk bend-and-twist posture. Height-adjustable chairs and the awareness of adjusting the workstation before scanning were protective factors. Elbow pain was associated with health status and height-adjustable tables. Wrist/hand pain was associated with female sex, bending the wrist, and working with obese patients. Upper back pain was associated with shoulder abduction, height-adjustable chairs, and device location. Lower back pain was associated with the number of scans performed per day, awkward postures, bending the trunk, twisting or bending the neck forward, and using a footrest.
This study suggests a high prevalence of MSD in sonographers in central China. Hence, it is necessary to improve the awareness of MSD by training, and the ergonomics of their current work environment by addressing physical workload, and psychological and equipment/facility-related factors.
PMCID: PMC5047644  PMID: 27695095
21.  Weak grip strength does not predict upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms or injuries among new workers 
Grip strength is often tested during post-offer pre-placement screening for workers in hand-intensive jobs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the association between grip strength and upper extremity symptoms, work disability, and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (UE MSD) in a group of workers newly employed in both high and low hand intensive work.
1107 recently-hired workers completed physical examinations including grip strength measurements. Repeated surveys obtained over 3 years described the presence of upper extremity symptoms, report of physician-diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), and job titles. Baseline measured grip values were used in analytic models as continuous and categorized values to predict upper extremity symptoms, work disability, or UE MSD diagnosis.
Twenty-six percent of males and 20% of females had low baseline hand strength compared to normative data. Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed no consistent associations between grip strength and three health outcomes (UE symptoms, work disability, and musculoskeletal disorders) in this young cohort (mean age: 30 years). Past MSD and work type were significant predictors of these outcomes.
Physical hand strength testing was not useful for identifying workers at risk for developing UE MSDs, and may be an inappropriate measure for post-offer job screens.
PMCID: PMC4725296  PMID: 23857165
Strength; Occupation; Prediction Modeling; Post-Offer Pre-Placement Examination
22.  Expert ratings of job demand and job control as predictors of injury and musculoskeletal disorder risk in a manufacturing cohort 
To examine associations between workplace injury and musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk and expert ratings of job-level psychosocial demand and job control, adjusting for job-level physical demand.
Among a cohort of 9260 aluminium manufacturing workers in jobs for which expert ratings of job-level physical and psychological demand and control were obtained during the 2 years following rating obtainment, multivariate mixed effects models were used to estimate relative risk (RR) of minor injury and minor MSD, serious injury and MSD, minor MSD only and serious MSD only by tertile of demand and control, adjusting for physical demand as well as other recognised risk factors.
Compared with workers in jobs rated as having low psychological demand, workers in jobs with high psychological demand had 49% greater risk of serious injury and serious MSD requiring medical treatment, work restrictions or lost work time (RR=1.49; 95% CI 1.10 to 2.01). Workers in jobs rated as having low control displayed increased risk for minor injury and minor MSD (RR=1.45; 95% CI 1.12 to 1.87) compared with those in jobs rated as having high control.
Using expert ratings of job-level exposures, this study provides evidence that psychological job demand and job control contribute independently to injury and MSD risk in a blue-collar manufacturing cohort, and emphasises the importance of monitoring psychosocial workplace exposures in addition to physical workplace exposures to promote worker health and safety.
PMCID: PMC4819649  PMID: 26163544
23.  Musculoskeletal health and work ability in physically demanding occupations: study protocol for a prospective field study on construction and health care workers 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:1075.
Musculoskeletal disorders have a profound impact on individual health, sickness absence and early retirement, particularly in physically demanding occupations. Demographics are changing in the developed countries, towards increasing proportions of senior workers. These senior workers may have particular difficulties coping with physically demanding occupations while maintaining good health.
Previous studies investigating the relationship between physical work demands and musculoskeletal disorders are mainly based on self-reported exposures and lack a prospective design. The aim of this paper is to describe the background and methods and discuss challenges for a field study examining physical demands in construction and health care work and their prospective associations with musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence.
Methods and design
This protocol describes a prospective cohort study on 1200 construction and health care workers. Participants will answer a baseline questionnaire concerning musculoskeletal complaints, general health, psychosocial and organizational factors at work, work demands, work ability and physical activity during leisure. A shorter questionnaire will be answered every 6th months for a total of two years, together with continuous sickness absence monitoring during this period. Analysis will prospectively consider associations between self-reported physical demands and musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence. To obtain objective data on physical exposures, technical measurements will be collected from two subgroups of N = 300 (Group A) and N = 160 (Group B) during work and leisure. Both group A and B will be given a physical health examination, be tested for physical capacity and physical activity will be measured for four days. Additionally, muscle activity, ground reaction force, body positions and physical activity will be examined during one workday for Group B. Analysis of associations between objectively measured exposure data and the outcomes described above will be done separately for these subpopulations.
The field study will at baseline produce objectively measured data on physical demands in the construction and health care occupations. In combination with clinical measurements and questionnaire data during follow-up, this will provide a solid foundation to prospectively investigate relationships between physical demands at work and development of musculoskeletal disorders, work ability and sickness absence.
PMCID: PMC4203897  PMID: 25318646
Physical exposures; Work ability; Musculoskeletal disorders; Accelerometer; Heart rate monitoring; Electromyography; Ground reaction force
24.  Complementary and alternative medicine use among US Navy and Marine Corps personnel 
Recently, numerous studies have revealed an increase in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in US civilian populations. In contrast, few studies have examined CAM use within military populations, which have ready access to conventional medicine. Currently, the prevalence and impact of CAM use in US military populations remains unknown.
To investigate CAM use in US Navy and Marine Corps personnel, the authors surveyed a stratified random sample of 5,000 active duty and Reserve/National Guard members between December 2000 and July 2002. Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression were used to assess univariate associations and adjusted odds of CAM use in this population.
Results and discussion
Of 3,683 service members contacted, 1,446 (39.3%) returned a questionnaire and 1,305 gave complete demographic and survey data suitable for study. Among respondents, more than 37% reported using at least one CAM therapy during the past year. Herbal therapies were among the most commonly reported (15.9%). Most respondents (69.8%) reported their health as being very good or excellent. Modeling revealed that CAM use was most common among personnel who were women, white, and officers. Higher levels of recent physical pain and lower levels of satisfaction with conventional medical care were significantly associated with increased odds of reporting CAM use.
These data suggest that CAM use is prevalent in the US military and consistent with patterns in other US civilian populations. Because there is much to be learned about CAM use along with allopathic therapy, US military medical professionals should record CAM therapies when collecting medical history data.
PMCID: PMC1884175  PMID: 17506899
25.  Use of Ergonomic Measures Related to Musculoskeletal Complaints among Construction Workers: A 2-year Follow-up Study 
Safety and Health at Work  2015;6(2):90-96.
The physical work demands of construction work can be reduced using ergonomic measures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of ergonomic measures related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among construction workers.
A questionnaire was sent at baseline and 2 years later to 1,130 construction workers. We established (1) the proportion of workers reporting an increase in their use of ergonomic measures, (2) the proportion of workers reporting a decrease in MSDs, (3) the relative risk for an increase in the use of ergonomic measures and a decrease in MSDs, and (4) workers' knowledge and opinions about the use of ergonomic measures.
At follow-up, response rate was 63% (713/1,130). The proportion of workers using ergonomic measures for vertical transport increased (34%, 144/419, p < 0.01); for measures regarding horizontal transport and the positioning of materials, no change was reported. The proportion of workers reporting shoulder complaints decreased (28%, 176/638, p = 0.02). A relationship between the use of ergonomic measures and MSDs was not found; 83% (581/704) of the workers indicated having sufficient knowledge about ergonomic measures. Lightening the physical load was reported to be the main reason for using them.
Only the use of ergonomic measures for vertical transport increased over a 2-year period. No relationship between the use of ergonomic measures and MSDs was found. Strategies aimed at improving the availability of ergonomic equipment complemented with individualized advice and training in using them might be the required next steps to increase the use of ergonomic measures.
PMCID: PMC4476186  PMID: 26106507
construction industry; ergonomics; longitudinal study; musculoskeletal pain

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