From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

What Makes a Job Hurt?

Looking for a job that won’t cause pain? Then don’t become a foot doctor or join the army. According to a study published in the May 2004 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, workers in those two jobs are the most apt to report widespread pain, including spinal pain and pain on both sides of the body, after only a year on the job.

According to the study’s lead researcher, Elaine F. Harkness, the goal of the study was to review jobs in which workers report high rates of muscle or skeletal pain to determine just how much the jobs themselves were contributing to worker discomfort and whether the pain was linked to repeated “mechanical trauma” and/or psychosocial factors. To more effectively accomplish this goal, researchers focused on new hires rather than all workers since workers who experience work-related pain may leave their jobs prematurely.

Nearly 900 initially pain-free workers were questioned after 12 months on the job and again at 24 months on the job. Researchers from the University of Manchester in England found that factors including lifting more than 15 pounds with one hand or 24 pounds with two hands, pulling more than 56 pounds, prolonged squatting, low job satisfaction, low social support and monotonous work were all factors contributing to worker pain. When they looked at all of these factors together, only squatting and monotony were consistently found to be pain predictors.

On the average, the study found that 15 of 100 workers in all industries will report pain after their first year on the job, but study researchers found some jobs to be a little more painful than others. Nearly one-third of all podiatrists and army infantry members reported widespread pain after a only a year on the job. Postal workers reported the lowest rates of pain in the first year (six percent) for the groups involved in the study; however, after two years, the rate of pain for postal workers became closer to average at 12 percent.

An accompanying editorial in the publication noted that while it’s easy to focus on changing the workers, it may be a better idea to change the workplace through proven concepts like ergonomics.

Source: MSN; Arthritis & Rheumatism