In order to provide national prevalence estimates of work related back pain, hand discomfort, and dermatitis, the 1988 Occupational Health Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey was used. The 12 month prevalence of back pain due to a work injury in the United States (US) was 2.5%. Truck drivers; operators of extractive, mining, and material moving equipment; and construction workers, had the highest prevalence of back pain. The prevalence of back pain due to repetitive activity on the job was 4.5%. Mechanics and repairers of engines, vehicles, and heavy equipment; operators of extractive, mining, and material moving equipment; and construction workers had the highest rates. The frequency of work and nonwork related hand discomfort was 10.7%. Operators of machines that process metal, plastic, stone, and glass; assemblers and people in hand working operations; and operators of machines that process wood, paper, textiles, and leather, had the highest incidence of hand discomfort. The frequency of dermatitis amongst US workers was 11.2%. The prevalence of dermatitis due to contact with substances was 2.8% and due to contact with substances at work was 1.7%. Physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, and dieticians; people in personal service occupations; and health care therapists, technologists, technicians, and assistants had the highest incidence of dermatitis.
Virginia Behrens, MS. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Taft Laboratories MS R-21, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnaiti, OH 45226