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Musculoskeletal load of municipal employees aged 44 to 58 years in different occupational groups

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Summary

This study is part of a comprehensive multidisciplinary project aimed at determining criteria for retirement ages in municipal occupations in Finland. Musculoskeletal load at work was studied in eight different occupational groups to see what differences between occupational groups exist. A job analysis of the work of 116 subjects was made with the ergonomic job description analysis method (AET). The work of 116 men and women, mean age 52 years, was studied in the work place. The study revealed three levels of overall musculoskeletal load. The groups with high musculoskeletal load worked in installation, auxiliary, home care and transport groups, with an assessed load of on average about one third of the maximal on the AET scale. Both quantitative and qualitative loading problems were concentrated in these groups. In contrast, teaching and administration groups had low musculoskeletal load averaging about 10% of the maximal. The nursing and office groups were between these two levels with a load of approximately 20% of the maximal. However, with the same overall quantity, the quality of the musculoskeletal load varied. In the transport group, monotonous static work with both arms (about 60% of workshift) and legs (30%) was most common, while the musculoskeletal load of the auxiliary and home care groups consisted of heavy dynamic muscular work with arms (60% of workshift) and legs (70%). On the other hand, the administration group alone had a static load of the arms (about 15% of workshift) and legs (2%) and also a low dynamic load with arms (0%) and legs (33%), which could have hypokinetic effects. In conclusion, there are significant differences between the profile groups in both the quantitative and qualitative load of the musculoskeletal system. The differences are even more pronounced when aging employees are studied. These facts support different retirement ages for the profile groups, at least when the musculoskeletal system is concerned.

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Correspondence to C. -H. Nygård.

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Nygård, C.-., Suurnäkki, T., Landau, K. et al. Musculoskeletal load of municipal employees aged 44 to 58 years in different occupational groups. Int. Arch Occup Environ Heath 59, 251–261 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00377737

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Key words

  • Job description
  • Work postures
  • Static and dynamic work
  • Musculoskeletal system