Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms among grocery workers
Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms among grocery workers

    Dan Antona, , , Douglas L. Weeksb

    a Department of Physical Therapy, Eastern Washington University, 310 N. Riverpoint Blvd. Box T, Spokane, WA 99202-0002, USA
    b St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute, Spokane, WA, USA

    Received 25 August 2015, Revised 31 March 2016, Accepted 12 May 2016, Available online 31 May 2016


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) affect all sectors of the working population, and grocery workers have especially high rates. Although the incidence of WMSDs among any worker population can be estimated from workers' compensation claims, musculoskeletal symptom surveys can be used as a proxy estimate of WMSDs. The purposes of this cross-sectional study were to describe the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal symptoms in grocery store employees from many different departments, and to determine the association between exposure to physical risk factors and presence of symptoms. Study participants (N = 254) were grocery store workers from five different stores in a medium sized grocery chain. Participants completed a self-administered survey consisting of demographic information and job history; the modified Nordic Questionnaire (MNQ); and physical component (PCS) and mental component (MCS) summary measures of the SF-36v2®. Rodgers Muscle Fatigue Analysis (Rodgers) was used to assess exposure to physical risk factors in the most difficult tasks in certain store departments. Prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms was estimated for each body region and for various subgroups, and multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to identify independent predictors of presence of musculoskeletal symptoms. Approximately 78% of grocery store workers reported work-related musculoskeletal symptoms in at least one body region, with most workers complaining of low back and feet symptoms. The high prevalence of foot symptoms has not been previously reported for this population. Approximately 11% of employees missed work because of symptoms and 25% sought medical care for symptoms. There were no differences among Rodgers rating groups for proportions reporting symptoms. SF-36v2® scores were inconsequential predictors for musculoskeletal symptoms. Gender and age were both significant predictors of symptoms, and age predicted healthcare utilization. These findings are relevant to the grocery industry in order to target WMSD preventive interventions to specific body regions for high-risk activities within a grocery store position

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