Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1991;17 suppl 1:30-39    pdf

Stress and strain of elderly employees in municipal occupations.

by Suurnakki T, Nygard CH, Ilmarinen J

Cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal stress and strain during work were investigated for 129 men and women aged 45 to 58 years. In physical work the women had more physical demands (34% of the workshift) than the men (21%) although the men had more peak loads (heavy and very heavy) than the women. Cardiorespiratory strain varied between 63 and 131 beats.min-1, which equaled a metabolic rate of 68 to 223 W.min-2. The relative cardiorespiratory strain of the older subjects was the same as that of the younger subjects. Among the physical workers with good cardiorespiratory capacity the absolute and relative strain was 10 and 18% lower, respectively, than among those with poor or moderate capacity. Poor work postures were the most common in physical work (17% of the workshift) and more common among the women (22%) than among the men (15%). It seems that work is often physically heavy for elderly women because of their decreased physical work capacity.