OBJECTIVES--To describe the nationwide occurrence of work related musculoskeletal injuries among all home care service workers in Sweden, and to identify relative risks and risk factors of the injuries. METHODS--The study was based on work related injuries reported to the Swedish occupational injury information system in 1990-1. The work related musculoskeletal injuries were divided into overexertion accidents and musculoskeletal diseases. The incidence of the injuries in female home care service workers was compared with those in nursery school workers and all other employed women in Sweden. RESULTS--In home care service workers, the annual incidence of injury from overexertion accidents and musculoskeletal diseases were 19.2 and 15.1 per 1000 workers, respectively, which was higher than those in nursery school workers and all employed women in Sweden. For five injury locations including the back, all the age standardised relative risks (SRR) of overexertion accidents exceeded 4.0, and most of those for musculoskeletal diseases were 1.5 or more in home care service workers compared with all other employed women in Sweden. Total duration of sick leave due to overexertion accidents was 7.7 times, and musculoskeletal diseases 3.5 times, longer than in nursery school workers. National loss due to sick leave resulting from only musculoskeletal injuries in home care service workers was about 8.2% of the total work related sick leave in all employed women in Sweden, although the number of home care service workers represented only some 5% of this population. Lifting other people was most frequently reported as the main risk cause of overexertion accidents in both kinds of workers. CONCLUSIONS--The results support the hypothesis that home care service workers have higher annual injury incidence of musculoskeletal injuries than nursery school workers due to physically stressful tasks that are far less common in nursery school workers.
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