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The Strain Index and ACGIH TLV for HAL: risk of trigger digit in the WISTAH prospective cohort.

Kapellusch-JM; Garg-A; Hegmann-KT; Thiese-MS; Malloy-EJ
Hum Factors 2014 Feb; 56(1):98-111
Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the association between job physical exposure (JPE) and incidence of flexor tendon entrapment of the digits (FTED). Background: FTED, commonly known as trigger digit, is associated with age, gender, and certain health disorders. Although JPE has been suggested as a risk factor for FTED, there are no prospective cohort studies. Method: A cohort of 516 workers was enrolled from 10 diverse manufacturing facilities and followed monthly for 6 years. Worker demographics, medical history, and symptoms of FTED were assessed. JPE was individually measured using the Strain Index (SI) and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit value for hand activity level (TLV for HAL). Changes in JPE (assessed quarterly) and symptoms (assessed monthly) were recorded during follow-up. FTED was defined as demonstrated triggering on examination. Results: Point prevalence of FTED at baseline was 3.6%. During follow-up there were 23 incident FTED cases (left and/or right hands). The incident rate for first occurrence of FTED from enrollment was 1.38 per 100 person-years. Risk factors were JPE, age, gender, diabetes mellitus, carpometacarpal osteoarthrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. In multivariate models, the SI showed strong association with risk of FTED when treated as a continuous variable and marginal association when dichotomized (SI > 6.1). TLV for HAL showed a statistical trend of increasing risk of FTED using the ACGIH limits, but no association as a continuous variable. Conclusions: Both JPE and personal risk factors are associated with FTED development. The SI and TLV for HAL are useful tools for estimating JPE.
Physiology; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Hand-injuries; Age-groups; Humans; Men; Women; Hazards; Exposure-levels; Risk-factors; Threshold-limit-values; Statistical-analysis; Repetitive-work; Author Keywords: epidemiology; ergonomics; tenosynovitis; tendovaginitis; job analysis; musculoskeletal disorders
Jay M. Kapellusch, Occupational Science & Technology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement; Grant
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U01-OH-007917; Grant-Number-T42-CCT-810426; B20130801
Issue of Publication
Source Name
Human Factors
Performing Organization
University of Wisconsin
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division