Objectives Construction workers who work on multiple jobsites have a high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders. Yet, scant quantitative information exists in the scientific literature on the relationship between worksite mobility patterns and musculoskeletal disorders.
Method Self-reported musculoskeletal pain, as defined as pain experienced in one of seven body areas in the past month, work history, and demographics were collected from 776 Boston area workers on their first day at one of seven commercial construction projects. Workers were classified as long-term workers (on-site greater than or equal to 30 days) or short-term workers (less than 30 days). Bivariate and multiple logistic regression analyses tested the relationship between term length and prevalence of self-reported musculoskeletal pain, adjusting for relevant covariates.
Results Of the 776 new workers, 344 (44%) were on-site after one month, 164 (21%) remained after two months, and only 74 (10%) remained after three months. Thirty-three percent of workers reported musculoskeletal pain at baseline. Short-term workers were 2.02 times (95% CI: 1.32, 3.08) more likely to report any musculoskeletal pain at baseline than long-term workers, when controlling for trade and tenure. Reporting of single- and multi-site pain was also associated with term length, with statistically significant adjusted odds ratios of 2.00 and 2.35, respectively.
Conclusions The observed excess of self-reported pain in short-term workers when compared to long-term workers mirrors disparities between temporary and non-temporary workers in other industries. This observed effect highlights the need to consider worksite mobility when analysing and interpreting data aimed at improving construction worker health and safety.
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