[Occupational health studies on airport transport workers. III. Musculoskeletal complaints and orthopedic disorders of airport transport workers (author's transl)]

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1982;50(1):59-75. doi: 10.1007/BF00432494.
[Article in German]


In an epidemiologic cross-sectional study, 366 transport workers (age-range: 19-61 years) of a big German airport who are engaged in physical heavy work in unfavorable body positions in narrow freight spaces of airplanes, were investigated with regard to their subjective musculoskeletal complaints through a standardized anamnesis in an interview questionnaire. An additional clinical orthopedic examination was performed in 104 of the transport workers. Back pains were the most frequently reported complaints: at the time of examination 66% of the transport workers reported present back complaints. 57% had experienced previous back syndromes. Increasing age and stature were associated with a higher prevalence of these complaints. Years of exposure to transport work correlated positively with the prevalence of back complaints. After back complaints, knee complaints followed in the prevalence of locomotor complaints (41% of the interviewed workers). The prevalence increased with age and body weight significantly. Neck complaints were reported by 33% of the workers, arm complaints by 41%: again, age increased the prevalence of these complaints significantly. In the standardized clinical orthopedic examination, the prevalence of the functional findings were sometimes higher than in the interview. In contrast to the subjective complaints at the interview, individual factors (age, stature, weight, and work experience in the present occupation) had very little influence on the prevalence of objective findings. The clinical, epidemiologic screening methods employed have proved efficacious in detecting orthopedic disorders in an occupational collective. This study has shown that transport workers with wide discrepancies between body length and the space available in airplane cargo bellies, considerable overweight, or a history of former back syndromes should not be employed. Means to alter cargo belly dimensions in airplanes as well as the increased use of mechanical loading aids and additional training of the workers in proper lifting and carrying of cargo should be taken in to consideration.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aircraft*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Bone Diseases / epidemiology
  • Bone Diseases / etiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Germany, West
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires