The prevalence of cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) among electricians was investigated, using a questionnaire to collect data on musculoskeletal symptoms, demographics and work history. The surveillance questionnaire was adapted from NIOSH and used to define the baseline prevalence of neck, shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, back and knee symptoms experienced during the previous year. The questionnaire was answered by 308 apprentices and journeymen enrolled in training classes at a union hall in Washington, DC. This group was relatively young and subjects had worked an average of 5 years in the trade. Back symptoms were reported by 51%, and hand/wrist symptoms were reported by 47%. Elbow symptoms were reported by 15%. At least one musculoskeletal symptom was reported by 82% and 57% reported two or more. The highest CTD prevalence was noted for the wrist/hands and back. Of symptomatic subjects, 34% had sought medical care, missed work, or required light duty work because of back problems, and 24% because of neck problems. The authors conclude that young construction workers appear to be at risk for low back discomfort which caused them to seek medical care, to miss work, and to perform only light duty. There was a correlation between those who had a history of injury and subsequently experienced a prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms.
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