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Musculoskeletal disorders among visual display terminal users in a telecommunications company.

Hales TR; Sauter SL; Peterson MR; Fine LJ; Putz-Anderson V; Schleifer LR; Ochs TT; Bernard BP
Ergonomics 1994 Oct; 37(10):1603-1621
A cross sectional study of 518 telecommunications employees (mean age 38) using video display terminals (VDTs) was performed in order to assess the relationship between workplace factors and work related upper extremity (UE) disorders. UE disorders were divided into four groups: neck, shoulder, elbow, and hand/wrist. Workers in three cities were selected for study, two with high UE disorder prevalence and one with low prevalence. Participation was voluntary. Questionnaires and physical examinations defined the cases of UE disorders among five categories of workers utilizing VDTs: Directory Assistance Operators (DAO), Service Representatives (SR), Loop Provisioning (LP), Recent Change Memory Administration Center (RCMAC), and Mail Remittance (MR). Information on demographics, individual factors (preexisting medical conditions and recreational activities), work organization and practices, and psychosocial aspects of work (including electronic performance monitoring) were obtained. Multiple logistic models assessed the relationships between workplace factors and UE disorders. The descriptive statistics were divided into two categories: musculoskeletal disorders and independent variables. For the musculoskeletal disorders group, 22% (111 subjects) of the participants met the case definition of UE disorders. LP employees had the highest prevalence of UE disorders (36%), followed by RCMAC (25%), DAO (22%), MR (20%), and SR (6%). Tendon related disorders were the most common UE disorder type; the hand and wrist area was the most affected of the tendon related disorders, followed by neck, elbow, and shoulder areas. Independent variables included aspects of race and gender. The psychosocial environment may also contribute to UE disorders; fear of being replaced by computers, increasing work pressure, and workload surges were among the psychosocial variables considered in the study. The authors suggest that work related UE disorders are common among telecommunications workers who utilize VDTs, and emphasize the importance of psychosocial variables to the occurrence of UE disorders.
NIOSH-Author; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Video-display-terminals; Communications-industry; Job-stress; Humans; Occupational-psychology; Psychological-factors; Psychological-stress; Cumulative-trauma-disorders; Author Keywords: Musculoskeletal disorders; Video display terminals; Telecommunications industry; Job stress; Psychosocial factors
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Page last reviewed: October 5, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division