The prevalence of back pain among United States workers was reported as 27.90 percent while pain in the arms was experienced by 27.99 percent of the group according to a 2002 national survey of 1484 individuals who were currently employed and put in 20 or more hours a week. Both back and arm pain was reported by 15.34 percent of interviewed workers according to Waters et al.
There was a strong correlation between back pain and being hurt at work with an increase in strength in proportion to the number of times hurt at work. There was also a strong relationship between back pain and (in descending order of significance) job dissatisfaction, lack of supervisor support, work stress, hand movements and heavy lifting. A good safety climate and having enough time to complete tasks was protective for back pain.
Pain in the arms showed association to being hurt at work with an increase in strength as the frequency of injury reached two events. Other significant factors for pain in the arms were (in descending order of significance) job satisfaction, work stress, hand movement, and work time. As with back pain, a good safety climate and having enough time to complete tasks was protective for arm pain.
A significant additive effect was seen for arm pain when risk factors of hand movement and work stress were combined. A similar trend was seen for back pain when risk factors of heavy lifting/work stress and hand movement/work stress were combined. The authors suggest that the incidence of work related back and arm injury may best be addressed by assessing both physical work factors and work stress.
Data was gathered through the 2002 General Social Survey, a bi-annual US national survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center. One part of the survey contained a quality of work life (QWL) module developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The QWL module was administered during a 90-minute face-to-face interview session with participants who were currently employed and worked 20 hours per week or more. The survey was constructed to identify:
- An outcome measure (“back pain”
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2007-03-08.