Recent Epidemiological Studies of Workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders

Ergonomics is the scientific study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is
to reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the
overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks. This is accomplished by
designing tasks, work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting, and
equipment to fit the employee´s physical capabilities and limitations.

In recent years several field-based studies examined the exposure-response
relationship between job physical risk factors and work-related musculoskeletal
disorders. The studies focused on either the lower back or the upper extremity.
Each of these studies addressed limitations of previous research on
work-related musculoskeletal disorders by having a prospective design; making
direct and quantitative measurements of job physical risk factors; assessing
psychosocial and work organization factors; collecting self-reported symptoms;
and assessing musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders through physical

The results of many of these studies are compiled and published in a special
issue of a peer-reviewed journal. These studies include:

Lower Back

  • Efficacy of the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation to predict risk of low-back pain associated with manual lifting: A one-year prospective study.

  • The NIOSH Lifting Equation and low-back pain, Part 1: Association with low-back pain in the BackWorks prospective cohort study.

  • The NIOSH Lifting Equation and low-back pain, Part 2: Association with seeking care in the BackWorks prospective cohort study.

  • Low-back pain ratings for lifetime, 1-month period, and point prevalences in a large occupational population.

  • Cumulative spine loading and clinically meaningful declines in low-back function.

  • Are workers who leave a job exposed to similar physical demands as workers who develop clinically meaningful declines in low-back function?

Upper Extremity

  • A prospective study of musculoskeletal outcomes among manufacturing workers: I. Effects of physical work factors.

  • A prospective study of musculoskeletal outcomes among manufacturing workers: II. Effects of psychosocial stress and work organization factors.

  • The Strain Index and ACGIH TLV for HAL: Risk of trigger digit in the WISTAH prospective cohort.

  • Evaluation of alternate category structures for the Strain Index: An empirical analysis.

  • The impact of posture on wrist tendinosis among blue-collar workers: The San Francisco study.

  • The association between combination of hand force and forearm posture and incidence of lateral epicondylitis in a working population.

  • Using job-title-based physical exposures from O*NET in an epidemiological study of carpal tunnel syndrome.

  • Impacts of differences in epidemiological case definitions on prevalence for upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders.

More information - Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)