Personal and job characteristics of musculoskeletal injuries in an industrial population

J Occup Med. 1992 Jun;34(6):606-12.


A cross-sectional study was conducted of 10,350 full-time regular employees who worked at Shell Oil Company's manufacturing facilities between 1987 and 1989. Two hundred seventy-five employees with low-back and 456 with nonlow-back musculoskeletal injuries were compared with 8295 employees who did not have musculoskeletal injuries during this period. Based on morbidity data collected from a prospective health surveillance system, this study shows that estimated relative risks (RRs) for low-back injuries are significantly higher among smokers (RR = 1.54, P less than .01) and overweight persons (RR = 1.42, P less than .01). This observation is also true for nonlow-back musculoskeletal injury (RR = 1.23, P = .05 for smokers and RR = 1.53, P less than .01 for overweight persons). In addition, persons in potentially more physically demanding jobs (primarily maintenance job titles) had an increased RR for both low-back and nonlow-back musculoskeletal injuries (RR = 1.57, P less than .01 and RR = 1.35, P = .02, respectively). The findings of this study suggest that it may be possible to reduce the impact of musculoskeletal injury through implementation of an integrated injury prevention program. Such programs would include not only the traditional elements of job factors evaluation and modifications, employee education and training, and an overall increased attention to ergonomics but also medical counseling and support for personal fitness programs, workplace smoking cessation programs, and weight-reduction programs.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational* / prevention & control
  • Adult
  • Back Injuries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects