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Are new workers at elevated risk for work injury? A systematic review

Abstract

Objective To identify, appraise and synthesise studies that have examined the degree to which new workers are at an elevated risk of work-related acute injuries and musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries.

Method We searched three relevant electronic databases for studies published between 1995 and early 2018. Fifty-one studies using multivariate analyses met our relevance and quality appraisal criteria. These studies examined two different work outcomes: acute injuries (eg, cuts, burns and falls) and MSK injuries (eg, repetitive strain).

Results In four of six studies looking at acute work injuries, new workers were found to be at an elevated risk of injury (ie, moderate supportive evidence of new worker risk). In another six studies looking at MSK symptoms, injuries or disorders, evidence of an elevated risk among new workers was insufficient or limited.

Conclusions Our review has potential implications for the prevention of work injuries, providing policy-makers and workplace parties with supportive evidence about the importance of prevention efforts focused on new workers, such as developing workplace policies that emphasise hazard exposure reduction, hazard awareness, hazard protection and worker empowerment.

  • epidemiology
  • health and safety
  • injury
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