Musculoskeletal symptoms among electricians

Am J Ind Med. 1994 Feb;25(2):149-63. doi: 10.1002/ajim.4700250202.


This study ascertained the presence of musculoskeletal symptoms among electricians, in order to evaluate the prevalence of cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) in this population. We adapted the CTD surveillance questionnaire used by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to assess the prevalence of neck, shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, back, and knee symptoms in the year prior to the survey. Questionnaires were completed by 308 apprentices and journeymen enrolled in training classes at the local union hall. The participants were relatively young individuals, and 86% of the participants were currently working as electricians. Participants reported a high prevalence of symptoms which occurred more than three times during the past year or which lasted more than 1 week. Back symptoms and hand/wrist symptoms were experienced most frequently, by about half the population, while elbow symptoms were reported by only 15% of participants. Symptom prevalence was lower, but still notable, when defined as symptoms which had occurred at least once a month or lasted more than a week in the past year. Eighty-two percent of participants reported at least one musculoskeletal symptom using the most inclusive definition, while 57% reported two or more symptoms. This survey highlights that: 1) low back discomfort is common in young construction workers, and resulted in medical care, missed work, or light duty for almost 35% of the participants; 2) neck discomfort is also very common and required doctor visits or work modification for almost one quarter of the participants; 3) these construction workers continued to work with symptoms that are classifiable as a CTD; and 4) history of injury is correlated with the subsequent prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational
  • Adult
  • Back Injuries
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Electricity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / etiology
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence