Heavy work, absenteeism and physical disorders

About one third of the Swedish workforce are employed in jobs involving
physically heavy work, a recently published report reveals. Injuries to
muscles, joints and tendons, and, in particular, back problems are frequently
cited as reasons for sick leave within professions where heavy work is common.

According to a report by Statistics Sweden and the Swedish Work Environment
Authority, about 33% of all employed men and 29% of all employed women have
jobs that involve heavy work (for a definition of heavy work, refer to ‘About
the study' below). This represents, since 1995, a slight decrease for women by
two percentage points and an increase by one percentage point for men.

Men and women were studied separately in the report, and heavy work has been
considered to be common in professions where more than 40% of women or more
than 55% of men regard their work as heavy. The report identifies heavy work as
common in 12 professions where mainly women work, and in 15 professions where
men predominantly work (see table below).

It finds that men and women generally experience different types of heavy work.
Men, to a larger extent than women, report that they must lift heavy loads,
while the majority of women report that their work is physically heavy, but
that they do not have to lift heavy loads. Difficult work postures are also
frequently reported. Some 70% of assistant nurses/hospital ward assistants,
mail carriers/sorting clerks, plumbers and painters, building structure
cleaners etc report that they have to work in strained postures. The report
concludes that difficult work postures are a contributing factor to the
respondents' view of their work as heavy.

Professions where heavy work is common generally have a higher percentage of
people on long-term absenteeism due to work-related disorders than is the case
among all those who are employed (here, 'long-term' is defined as five weeks or
more). Among the total working population, 6.8% of women and 3.8% of men were
long-term absent due to a work-related disorder over a 12-month period. Among
professions where physically heavy work is common, 11% of women working as
machine operators/assemblers or cooks have been long-term absent. Plumbers and
painters have the highest long-term absenteeism among men, at 7% and 8%

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions