Objectives To investigate associations between heavy lifting and musculo-skeletal disorders in a group of baggage handlers. It is generally accepted that heavy lifting and lifting in kneeling and stooped positions are risk factors for musculo-skeletal disorders in the shoulders, knees and lower back region. However, the influence of magnitude and time of heavy lifting on the risk of musculoskeletal disorders is still unclear. Baggage handlers are daily exposed to heavy lifting in stooped, squatting or kneeling positions in constrained spaces and hence they are a good study group for our objective. This abstract report the first results based on questionnaire data and will be supplemented later with objective data on lifting loads and diagnosed musculoskeletal disorders.
Methods We established a cohort of baggage handlers employed at Copenhagen Airport during the period 1983 to 2012 (n = 3093) and a reference cohort of men who worked in other unskilled occupations during the same period (n = 2478). Data regarding work history, lifestyle and musculoskeletal complaints were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. The response rate was 70.5%. Data were analysed using logistic regression.
Results The risk of self-reported pain in the shoulders, knees and lower back was significantly higher in the group of baggage handlers than in the reference group. The difference between the groups disappeared after adjusting for length of employment. Furthermore, the risk of pain increased with length of employment. For every 10 years of employment the risk of shoulder pain increased by 34% (OR = 1.34, CI: 1.19–1.51), the risk of knee pain increased by 45% (OR = 1.45, CI: 1.29–1.63) and the risk of lower back pain increased by 46% (OR = 1.46, CI: 1.31–1.63). Adjusting for age, height and weight did not change the results.
Conclusion The risk of self-reported shoulder, knee and lower back pain increased with the length of employment as baggage handler.
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