NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Musculoskeletal disorders.

Andersson-GBJ; Fine-LJ; Silverstein-BA
Occupational health: recognizing and preventing work-related disease and injury, 4th edition. BS Levy, and DH Wegman, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2000 Jan; :503-535
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders commonly involve the back, cervical spine, and upper extremities. Understanding of these problems has developed rapidly during the past decade. The two sections of this chapter provide an overview of these problems and a framework for recognizing and preventing them. Low back pain is one of the oldest occupational health problems in history. In 1713, Bernardino Ramazzini, the "founder" of occupational medicine, referred to "certain violent and irregular motions and unnatural postures of the body by which the internal structure" is impaired. Ramazzini examined the harmful effects of unusual physical activity on the spine, such as the sciatica caused by constantly turning the potter's wheel, lumbago from sitting, and hernias among porters and bearers of heavy loads. In addition to being one of the oldest occupational health problems, low back pain is one of the most common. Approximately 80% of workers experience low back pain sometime during their active working life. At any given moment, 10% to 15% of the adult U.S. population experiences low back pain (1,2). Back pain is the most frequent cause of activity limitation in people younger than 45 years of age, the second most frequent reason for physician visits, and the third ranking reason for surgical procedures. Approximately 11 % of Americans report low back impairment or a reduced ability to function. Every year, about 2% of the employed population lose time from work because of low back pain, and approximately half of these people receive compensation for lost wages. Lost time from low back pain averages 4 hours per worker per year, and among medical reasons for work absence it is second only to upper respiratory tract infections.
Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Back-injuries; Spinal-cord-disorders; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Occupational-health; Posture; Occupational-hazards; Workers; Worker-health
Publication Date
Document Type
Book or book chapter
Levy-BS; Wegman-DH
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Musculoskeletal System Disorders
Source Name
Occupational health: recognizing and preventing work-related disease and injury, 4th edition
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division