Background. The laundries present in hospitals are responsible for washing, disinfection and distribution of working clothes. In healthcare services, workers from laundry services are exposed to various occupational hazards, including the ergonomic ones, related in particular to repeated movements of lumbar flexion, raising the arms above shoulder level and transportation of loads. These conditions can provoke musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), one of the most common occupational disease present in developed countries.
Methods. Step one: evaluation of the baseline condition by two different approaches. (1) Risk assessment with the study of working conditions using a specific integrated tool; (2) analysis of referred symptoms from workers using a specific validated questionnaire for MSD, the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire. 167 workers are included, 51 males (age 42,8 ± 10,3 years), 118 females (age 45,1 ± 8,8 years). Step two: changes of working organization on the basis of the results of step one.
Results. The analysis of questionnaires showed higher prevalence of symptoms in the female groups, in particular in the iron area. Symptoms increase with age and BMI but not with years of employment. On these basis a reorganization of the job processes were carried out, with changing in the machinery and in job organization (e.g., time of work at the workstation, including more frequent rotations of workers), and a specific individual practical training of workers was realized.
Discussion. The incidence of MSD symptoms appear very high. The inherent characteristics of the job associated with individual factors and unfavorable ergonomic conditions can contribute in the occurrence of MSD, injuries and aggravation of existing diseases.
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Industrial laundry
- Ergonomic risks