Sickness absence data of approx. 50,000 employees were gathered from the health insurance funds of five companies from the metal processing and retail trade. According to the job characteristics the employees were grouped in 83 different job types. Each job type was accessed with respect to the occurrence of risk factors (70 items). Finally, adjusted relative risks for disease-specific sickness absence were calculated. With respect to all diseases studied "low job control" turned out to be the risk factor highest associated with sickness absence. E.g., for back disorders a relative risk of 4.7 was seen for employees whose jobs were highest characterised by "low job control" compared to employees without. In contrast, relative risks concerning "high job demands" were well below one. In general, associations between physical work bad (e.g. heavy work, vibrations) and sickness absence from various diseases were observed also, but those of psychosocial factors were more consistent and dominant.