Working hours as a risk factor in the development of musculoskeletal complaints

Ergonomics. 1991 Mar;34(3):265-76. doi: 10.1080/00140139108967312.


The length of daily working hours as a risk factor for the development of musculoskeletal complaints was studied by comparing the sick leave statistics of 408 sewing machine operators on full-time schedules (8 h working day) with 210 operators on part-time schedules (5 h working day). Working part-time was shown to postpone the occurrence of sick leave due to musculoskeletal disorders by approximately half a year. There was no lasting effect on the reduction in working hours on sick leave due to shoulder-neck complaints, but a reduction in low back complaints was indicated. It is suggested that any reorganization of work activities to counteract musculoskeletal injuries from repetitive work should aim to break up the muscular activity patterns over time periods considerably shorter than the 5 h working day of the part-time workers in the present study.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Adult
  • Bone Diseases / etiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Work Schedule Tolerance*