Musculoskeletal disorders among female and male air traffic controllers performing identical and demanding computer work

Ergonomics. 2006 Sep 15;49(11):1052-67. doi: 10.1080/00140130600733816.


Operators with identical, demanding computer work (90 female and 97 male air traffic controllers) were found to have high prevalences of disorders (assessed by questionnaire and physical examination) in neck, shoulders and upper back. In spite of the identical work, the women displayed higher prevalences than the men (e.g. neck diagnoses 21% vs. 4%). Disorders in elbows, wrists and hands were less common, with similar rates in both genders. Generally, the psychosocial work environment (assessed by questionnaire) was found to be good, but with large inter-individual variation. Women experienced lower decision latitude than men, particularly regarding influence and freedom at work, but perceived higher social support. Physically, the work was characterized by relatively low angular velocities of upper arms (measured by inclinometry) and wrists (right: < 1 degrees/s during 19% of time, measuring by goniometry), dynamic muscular activities and high time fractions of rest in the trapezius and forearm extensor muscles (measuring by electromyography). There were only minor differences between the genders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases*
  • Sweden
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • User-Computer Interface*