Project 4

A Cross-sectional study on occupational musculoskeletal disorders of the spine, hip and knee joints caused by physical workload and a related longitudinal study on psychosocial factors in the daily work routine of the company and their impact on prevention and treatment

Musculoskeletal complaints at work derive from both specific mechanical factors as well as work-related and individual physical and psychosocial factors. Successful preventive and treatment approaches need to consider both aspects, as well as the choice of “safer” future workplaces for symptomatic workers. This project thus determines physical load and concurrent musculoskeletal complaints for workplaces following a body region specific approach for the lower back, hip and knee, using the CUELA System to document work postures and analytical biomechanical models to determine respective loads for hip, knee and lumbar spine. At the same time a questionnaire/interview addressing selected aspects of yellow, blue and black flags (based on the literature on risk factors for chronic low back pain) as well as prior pain experience and sensitivity will be administered. Both male and females will be included, as there may be important differences in the interaction of the two assessment domains, as well as between vulnerable body regions.  The work plan will initially identify workplaces with activities particularly stressful for the lower spine, hip and knee, respectively. Measurement methodology will then be validated, adding EMG and ECG recordings as feasible. A cross-sectional field study at the selected workplaces with female and male employees per body region will follow. The set of questionnaires will be used at the time of recording and 3 months after the initial assessment to monitor the development of MSD, pain and possible functional disability. The statistical analysis will focus on a structural model of the activities investigated, the biomechanical loads determined, the associated musculoskeletal complaints and the individual and work-related physical and psychosocial factors.

Institution: Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance

Partner: Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, Schmerzmedizin, Klinik für Anästhesiologie