Background: Low back pain (LBP) remains the predominant occupational health problem in most industrialized countries and low-income countries. Both work characteristics and individual factors have been identified as risk factors. More knowledge about the predictors of sickness absence from LBP in the industry will be valuable in determining strategies for prevention.
Objectives: The aim of this longitudinal study was to investigate whether individual, work-related physical risk factors were involved in the occurrence of LBP sickness absence.
Methods: A follow-up study was conducted among 489 workers, aged 18-65 years, at Kosovo Energetic Corporation in Kosovo. This cross-sectional study used a self-administered questionnaire to collect data on individual and work-related risk factors and the occurrence of LBP sickness absence. Logistic regression models were used to determine associations between risk factors and the occurrence of sickness absence due to LBP.
Results: Individual factors did not influence sickness absence, whereas work-related physical factors showed strong associations with sickness absence. The main risk factors for sickness absence due to LBP among production workers were extreme trunk flexion (OR = 1.71, 95% CI = 1.05-2.78) as well as very extreme trunk flexion (OR = 6.04, 95% CI = 1.12-32.49) and exposure to whole-body vibration (OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.04-2.95).
Conclusion: Reducing sickness absence from LBP among power plant workers requires focusing on the working conditions of blue-collar workers and risk factors for LBP. Increasing social support in the work environment may have effects in reducing sickness absence from LBP.
Keywords: Low back pain; occupational; physical risk factors; sick leave.