NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

Are workers who leave a job exposed to similar physical demands as workers who develop clinically meaningful declines in low-back function?

Ferguson SA; Marras WS; Lavender SA; Splittstoesser RE; Yang G
Hum Factors 2014 Feb; 56(1):58-72
Objective: The objective is to quantify differences in physical exposures for those who stayed on a job (survivor) versus those who left the job (turnover). Background: It has been suggested that high physical job demands lead to greater turnover and that turnover rates may supplement low back disorder incidence rates in passive surveillance systems. Method: A prospective study with 811 participants was conducted. The physical exposure of distribution center work was quantified using a moment monitor. A total of 68 quantitative physical exposure measures in three categories (load, position, and timing) were examined. Low back health function was quantified using the lumbar motion monitor at baseline and 6-month follow-up. Results: There were 365 turnover employees within the 6-month follow-up period and 446 "survivors" who remained on the same job, of which 126 survivors had a clinically meaningful decline in low back functional performance (cases) and 320 survivors did not have a meaningful decline in low back functional performance (noncases). Of the job exposure measures, 6% were significantly different between turnover and cases compared to 69% between turnover and noncases. Turnover employees had significantly greater exposure compared to noncases. Conclusion: Turnover employees had similar physical job exposures to workers who remained on the job and had a clinically meaningful decline in low back functional performance. Thus, ergonomists and HR should be aware that high turnover jobs appear to have similar physical exposure as those jobs that put workers at risk for a decline in low back functional performance.
Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Humans; Men; Women; Back-injuries; Exposure-levels; Warehousing; Injuries; Statistical-analysis; Risk-factors; Models; Author Keywords: employee turnover; warehousing; low back injury
Sue A. Ferguson, The Ohio State University, Integrated Systems Engineering, Biodynamics Laboratory, 1971 Neil Avenue, 210 Baker Systems, Columbus, OH 43210
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-007313; B20130801
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
The Ohio State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division