Background: Work-related shoulder pain is a common problem. Ergonomic factors in the workplace are thought to be important but a number of other factors have also been associated with shoulder pain.
Aims: To identify risk factors for work-related shoulder pain in Alberta, focusing particularly on ergonomic risk factors.
Methods: A case referent design was used to compare individuals who made a Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) claim for work-related shoulder pain with individuals who made a claim for other types of injury. Data were collected using a postal questionnaire and analysed by logistic regression.
Results: There were 1263 participants (562 cases, 701 referents). The participation rate was 25% among cases and 21% among referents (P < 0.01). Factors associated with an increased likelihood of claim for shoulder injury included lifting ≥10 kg above shoulder height for ≥15 min per day, shoulder pain in the month prior to injury, working in the 'Government, education, and health services' industry sector and being occasionally/never satisfied with support from colleagues.
Conclusions: These results support the importance of ergonomic factors in work-related shoulder pain claims, particularly the lifting of weights above shoulder level for even short periods. Relatively simple ergonomic measures, such as restricting above shoulder lifting, could be adopted with the aim of reducing the risk of shoulder injury at work.