Occupational physical activities over many years can induce osteoarthritis in selected joints. Well-studied examples include evidence of osteoarthritis of the knees and spine in miners, osteoarthritis of the hip in farmers and increased rates of osteoarthritis of otherwise not usually affected upper extremity joints in pneumatic drill operators. Occupation-induced osteoarthritis may not be limited to these uncommon occupations but may, in fact, account for a large proportion of osteoarthritis in the population. Additional studies of this issue, which incorporate high-quality ergonomic assessments of occupational physical activities, are needed. People with pre-existing arthritis often experience work disability, especially when faced with physically demanding jobs in which they have little control over the pace or the specific physical demands of their labour.