Are musculoskeletal complaints, related work impairment and desirable adjustments in work age-specific?Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2014 Aug; 87(6):647-54.IA
Musculoskeletal complaints from employees commonly occur and may lead to work impairments. Desirable adjustments in work may differ according to age and the type of complaint. We determined whether the prevalence of musculoskeletal complaints, resulting work impairment and desirable and feasible adjustments in work differs between employees of various age groups at a railway company.
Employees (n = 2,021) were asked to fill out a questionnaire about musculoskeletal complaints by body regions, the resulting work impairment and the desirable and feasible adjustments in their own work situation. Differences between employees of four age groups (22-35, 36-45, 46-55 and 56-66 years) were tested for significance using the chi-square test.
Musculoskeletal complaints in the neck, arm and at least one other body region were most prevalent in the 46-55-year age group compared with the other age groups. Impairments in work due to the musculoskeletal complaints only differed significantly between age groups for lower back complaints, which occurred most often in the oldest age group. Regarding adjustments in work, proportionally more of the youngest employees with musculoskeletal complaints found it desirable and feasible to switch to another job in the company, whereas proportionally more employees within the oldest age group found it desirable and feasible to work fewer days per week.
Employee age groups differed significantly regarding musculoskeletal complaints, resulting work impairment and desirable adjustments in work. Age-specific preventive measures for musculoskeletal complaints could be useful to keep employees healthy to perform their job until retirement and may reduce the costs associated with absenteeism and health care.