Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1982;8 suppl 1:92-96    pdf

Back complaints and findings in transport workers performing physically heavy work.

by Undeutsch K, Gartner KH, Luopajarvi T, Kupper R, Karvonen MJ, Lowenthal I, Rutenfranz J

Transport work at an airport promotes the appearance of back diseases because of the lifting carrying, pulling, and pushing of loads in limited spaces. To clarify the nature of back disorders in such a group, a standardized interview for detecting subjective previous and present back symptoms was made of 366 transport workers, and 134 were given a clinical orthopedic examination for detecting objective findings. Sixty-six percent of the interviewed workers reported current back symptoms; these symptoms correlated significantly positively with height, age, and length of transport work experience. Eighty-three percent of te workers with present back symptoms also complained of former back pain. Validity tests between the interview and the clinical examination showed a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 31%. The results of our study suggest (i) that according to the high sensitivity the used interview is a valuable screening method for detecting back disorders, and (ii) that selection of workers according to the criteria of our results may be expected to lower the prevalence of back complaints.