Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1998;24(2):145-152    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.292

Occupational factors affecting sick leave attributed to low back pain

by Wickström GJ, Pentti J

Objectives The purpose of this study was to determine the occupational factors that cause workers to take sick leave.

Methods Twice, with a 24-month interval, 117 white- and 189 blue-collar employees from 2 metal industry companies completed a questionnaire on recurrent low-back pain and exposure to potential risk factors (biomechanical loads, physical environment, psychosocial factors) at work. Sick leave was monitored for the period between the questionnaires.

Results Low-back pain was predicted by exposure to harmful biomechanical loads among both white- and blue-collar workers [odds ratio (OR) 4.1 and 4.7, respectively), stress among white-collar workers (OR 2.4), and draft among blue-collar workers (OR 2.3). The take-up of sick leave was predicted by exposure to harmful biomechanical loads [rate ratio (RR) 1.7]; for sick leaves attributed to low-back pain the rate ratio was 3.1. Lack of recognition and respect at work predicted sick-leave attributed to low-back pain (RR 2.0), but not to other disorders.

Conclusion Recurrent low-back pain is preceded by reports of harmful biomechanical loads at work among white- and blue-collar workers, by stress among white-collar workers and by draft among blue-collar workers. The environmental and psychosocial factors under study did not modify the relation between biomechanical loads and the recurrent low-back pain. Sick leave attributed to back disorders is preceded by exposure to biomechanical loads at work and by a lack of recognition and respect at work among blue-collar workers. Biomechanical loading seems to be the most important occupational factor predicting both recurrent low-back pain and sick leave attributed to back disorders. Lack of recognition and respect at work appear to affect sick leave attributed to back disorders.

The following article refers to this text: 2010;36(1):34-41