2013-08-01 12:00 - Messages

Personal and workplace psychosocial risk factors for carpal tunnel syndrome: a pooled study cohort

Background Between 2001 and 2010, six research groups conducted coordinated multiyear, prospective studies of carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) incidence in US workers from various industries and collected detailed subject-level exposure information with follow-up symptom, physical examination, electrophysiological measures and job changes. Objective This analysis of the pooled cohort examined the incidence of dominant-hand CTS in relation to demographic characteristics and estimated associations with occupational psychosocial factors and years worked, adjusting for confounding by personal risk factors. Methods 3515 participants, without baseline CTS, were followed-up to 7 years. Case criteria included symptoms and an electrodiagnostic study consistent with CTS. Adjusted HRs were estimated in Cox proportional hazard models. Workplace biomechanical factors were collected but not evaluated in this analysis. Results Women were at elevated risk for CTS (HR=1.30; 95% CI 0.98 to 1.72), and the incidence of CTS increased linearly with both age and body mass index (BMI) over most of the observed range. High job strain increased risk (HR=1.86; 95% CI 1.11 to 3.14), and social support was protective (HR=0.54; 95% CI 0.31 to 0.95). There was an inverse relationship with years worked among recent hires with the highest incidence in the first 3.5 years of work (HR=3.08; 95% CI 1.55 to 6.12). Conclusions Personal factors associated with an increased risk of developing CTS were BMI, age and being a woman. Workplace risk factors were high job strain, while social support was protective. The inverse relationship between CTS incidence and years worked among recent hires suggests the presence of a healthy worker survivor effect in the cohort.

Source : Carisa Harris-Adamson, Ellen A Eisen, Ann Marie Dale, Bradley Evanoff, Kurt T Hegmann, Matthew S Thiese, Jay M Kapellusch, Arun Garg, Susan Burt, Stephen Bao, Barbara Silverstein, Fred Gerr, Linda Merlino, David Rempel. Occup Environ Med 2013;70:8 529-537 Published Online First: 3 May 2013 http://dx.oi.org/10.1136/oemed-2013-101365

A multi-criteria ergonomic and performance methodology for evaluating alternatives in “manuable” material handling

The objectives of this study were: 1) to develop an efficient multi-criteria approach for choosing the optimal alternative for “manuable” material handling, and 2) to apply the multi-criteria approach to a case study. In this paper, the authors use the single-word term “manuable” to refer to the definition “can be performed manually”. The case study results indicated that the use of the manipulator tested in this work may be preferable to manual material handling in situations in which the lifted weight is large (61% vs. 39%) as well as those situations in which the weight of the load could not apparently justify the investment necessary for a manipulator (53% vs. 47%). The case study also validated the selected approach. Furthermore, the applicability of the methodology was confirmed by the CEO of an Italian logistics and supply chain management company (Blu Pegaso S.r.l.). Relevance to industry This paper provides to the decision manager a structured approach regardless of industry and country for selection of the best alternative for manuable material handling that is able to satisfy the company objectives related to ergonomic criteria and production performance measures. The methodology also supports manufacturers of material handling devices in the optimisation of their products.

Diana Rossi, Enrico Bertoloni, Marco Fenaroli, Filippo Marciano, Marco Alberti, A multi-criteria ergonomic and performance methodology for evaluating alternatives in “manuable” material handling, International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, Vol. 43, no 4, July 2013, p. 314-327 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ergon.2013.04.009

International variation in absence from work attributed to musculoskeletal illness: findings from the CUPID study

Objectives To quantify the variation in rates of absence due to musculoskeletal pain across 47 occupational groups (mostly nurses and office workers) from 18 countries, and to explore personal and group-level risk factors that might explain observed differences. Methods A standardised questionnaire was used to obtain information about musculoskeletal pain, sickness absence and possible risk factors in a cross-sectional survey of 12 416 workers (92–1017 per occupational group). Additionally, group-level data on socioeconomic variables, such as sick pay and unemployment rates, were assembled by members of the study team in each country. Associations of sickness absence with risk factors were examined by Poisson regression. Results Overall, there were more than 30-fold differences between occupational groups in the 12-month prevalence of prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence, and even among office workers carrying out similar occupational tasks, the variation was more than tenfold. Personal risk factors included older age, lower educational level, tendency to somatise, physical loading at work and prolonged absence for non-musculoskeletal illness. However, these explained little of the variation between occupational groups. After adjustment for individual characteristics, prolonged musculoskeletal sickness absence was more frequent in groups with greater time pressure at work, lower job control and more adverse beliefs about the work-relatedness of musculoskeletal disorders. Conclusions Musculoskeletal sickness absence might be reduced by eliminating excessive time pressures in work, maximising employees' responsibility and control and providing flexibility of duties for those with disabling symptoms. Care should be taken not to overstate work as a cause of musculoskeletal injury.

Source : David Coggon, Georgia Ntani, Sergio Vargas-Prada, José Miguel Martinez, Consol Serra, Fernando G Benavides, Keith T Palmer, and other members of the CUPID Collaboration. Occup Environ Med 2013;70:8 575-584 Published Online First: 21 May 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/oemed-2012-101316

The Healthy LifeWorks Project: The Effect of a Comprehensive Workplace Wellness Program on the Prevalence and Severity of Musculoskeletal Disorders in a Canadian Government Department

Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a comprehensive workplace wellness program on the prevalence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders in a Canadian government department. Methods: The Healthy LifeWorks program was developed, implemented, and evaluated over a 4-year period. A total of 233 employees completed the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire before and after the program to determine the prevalence and severity of musculoskeletal disorders. Results: There was an approximately 10% decrease in the 12-month prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, ranging from 4% for hip/thigh problems to 12% for lower and upper back problems. The proportion of people reporting that a musculoskeletal disorder interfered with their normal work during the past 12 months decreased from 83% to 46%. Conclusions: Comprehensive wellness, including educational sessions on posture, ergonomics, and joint health, results in improved musculoskeletal health.

Source : Curwin, Sandra; Allt, Jane; Szpilfogel, Claudine; Makrides, Lydia. Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, June 2013, Vol. 55, no 6, p. 628–633
http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829889c1

The demographic and contextual correlates of work-related repetitive strain injuries among Canadian men and women

Background The study sought to identify gender differences in work-related repetitive strain injuries (RSI), as well as examine the degree to which non-work factors such as family roles interact with gender to modify RSI risk. Another aim is to examine whether there are potential provincial differences in work-related RSI risk.
Methods The 2003/2005 Canadian Community Health Survey included over 89,000 respondents who reported working in the past 12 months. Separate multi-level models for men and women were used to identify the correlates of work-related RSIs. Results Women reported sustaining more work-related RSIs than men. Also, having one or more children in the household was associated with lower work-related RSI risk for females. Both men and women in British Columbia reported higher work-related RSI rates than in Ontario. Conclusions Gender contributes to RSI risk in multiple and diverse ways based on labor market segregation, non-work exposures, and possibly biological vulnerability, which suggests more tailored interventions. Also, the provincial differences indicate that monitoring and surveillance of work injury across jurisdictions can assist in province-wide prevention and occupational health and safety evaluation.

Source : Breslin, F. C., Ibrahim, S., Smith, P., Mustard, C., Amick, B. and Shankardass, K. (2013). Am. J. Ind. Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22195

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