From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics-Related Disorders Included in the International Classification of Diseases

[Editor's note: This article is reprinted, with permission, from The Ergonomics Report™, Ergoweb's popular subscription-based online publication. Subscribers have had access to this article since September 12, 2011.]

In our culture we sometimes refer to unpleasant or confrontational terms by their initials. And in places where ergonomics is not always greeted with open arms, I have sometimes, sarcastically, referred to it as ‘the ‘E’-Word’, in order to avoid provocation.

Recently, I discovered a new ‘E’ word, actually a series of ‘E’-codes strangely related to ergonomics. The International Classification of Diseases (9th revision), or ICD-9, is a numeric system for classifying injuries, illnesses, and treatments in a uniform manner, so that medical records and related documents can be compared for research, billing, and other purposes.

I’m currently working on a project in epidemiology, another ‘E’ word, and my recently acquired copy of the ICD-9 is just a hair over 2,000 pages. It’s indexed numerically, alphabetically, and in a few ways I still have to figure out. Fortunately, this edition also included a PDF copy on a CD-ROM, an ‘E’-book, in order to make its contents more accessible.

In addition to diagnostic and treatment descriptions, the ICD-9 allows physicians or clinics to code ‘external causes of injury’ via ‘E’-codes. Naturally, I had to scan the PDF for ‘ergonomics’ and several variants. No luck.

But there is an E927 category for ‘Overexertion and strenuous and repetitive movements or loads’, with sub categories for:

  • Overexertion from sudden strenuous movement (E927.0);
  • Overexertion from prolonged static position (E927.1);
  • Excessive physical exertion from prolonged activity (E927.2);
  • Cumulative trauma from repetitive motion (E927.3);
  • Cumulative trauma from repetitive impact (E927.4);
  • Other overexertion and strenuous and repetitive movements or loads (E927.8);
  • Unspecified overexertion and strenuous and repetitive movements or loads (E927.9).

It was interesting to see each of these variants broken out separately.

If it makes a difference, these injuries are listed directly below the broad and diverse radiation categories. Vibration (E928.2) is just a few lines down, just above E928.3 (Human bite), E928.4 (External constriction caused by hair), and E928.6 (Environmental exposure to harmful algae and toxins).

So we are no longer ‘pseudo-science’. We are internationally recognized, even though we are listed just above problems caused by some of the lowest forms of life.

Philip Jacobs, MS, CSP, CPE is a consultant in ergonomics and safety based in Minnesota. 


This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2011-09-12.