Objectives We aimed to identify intensities of occupational mechanical exposures (force, arm elevation and repetition) that do not entail an increased risk of surgery for subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) even after prolonged durations of exposure. Additionally, we wanted to evaluate if exposure to hand-arm vibration (HAV) is an independent risk factor.
Methods We used data from a register-based cohort study of the entire Danish working population (n=2 374 403). During follow-up (2003–2008), 14 118 first-time events of surgery for SIS occurred. For each person, we linked register-based occupational codes (1993–2007) to a general population job exposure matrix to obtain year-by-year exposure intensities on measurement scales for force, upper arm elevation >90° and repetition and expert rated intensities of exposure to HAV. For 10-year exposure time windows, we calculated the duration of exposure at specific intensities above minimal (low, medium and high). We used a logistic regression technique equivalent to discrete survival analysis adjusting for cumulative effects of other mechanical exposures.
Results We found indications of safe exposure intensities for repetition (median angular velocity <45°/s), while force exertion ≥10% of maximal voluntary electrical activity and upper arm elevation >90° >2 min/day implied an increased risk reaching ORs of 1.7 and 1.5 after 10 years at low intensities. No associations were found for HAV.
Conclusions We found indications of safe exposure intensities for repetition. Any intensities of force and upper arm elevation >90° above minimal implied an increased risk across 10-year exposure time windows. No independent associations were found for HAV.
- Job Exposure Matrix
- Shoulder Disorders
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Contributors Conceived and designed the study: AD, PF and SWS. Analysed data: AD in close collaboration with PF and SWS. Interpreted data: AD, JHA, PF and SWS. Drafted the paper: AD in close collaboration with PF and SWS. All authors have reviewed the paper for important intellectual content, approved the final version of the manuscript and take responsibility for the integrity of the work as a whole.
Funding This study was a part of the DOC*X study, which was supported by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund (project no. 43B2014B03).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional unpublished data from the study is available.