Ohio Study Suggests Musculoskeletal Injuries In Construction Workers Change With Age

F.J. Thomas

Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) – Approximately 90 percent of a construction worker’s time is spent handling materials directly with their hands. Brick masons, painters, drywall contractors, and concrete workers spend the most time bending and twisting in awkward positions while working. Concrete workers, heating and A/C contractors, roofers, and painters spend the most time kneeling, crouching, stooping, or crawling during their jobs. Plumbers, elevator workers, iron workers, and heating and A/C contractors spend the most time in awkward or cramped positions while performing their jobs. A recent study of Ohio workers’ compensation claims suggests that the large amount of first-hand handling of materials has taken a toll on workers, especially as they age.

Lead researcher Harpriya Kaur, PhD and fellow colleagues reviewed 10,347 Ohio workers’ compensation claims filed between 2007 and 2017 for work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD) claims brought on by overexertion.

Researchers found that workers aged 35 to 44 had the highest rates of claims filed per 10,000 full-time employees. The age category 45 to 54 years had the second highest rates, followed by workers aged 25 to 34. In reviewing the data against age categories, researchers noted a correlation between WMSD rates and age, and diagnosis categories, of which 63 percent contained single diagnoses.

Workers aged 35 to 44, and 45 to 54 had a higher claim rate for disc disorders and upper extremity sprains. The claim rates for back sprains were higher for workers aged 25 to 34, and ages 35 to 44.

While the claim rate may be higher for workers in younger age brackets, the severity of WMSDs increased with age, with a peak at age 55 to 64. For lost time claims, where 100 or more workdays are lost, workers aged 45 to 54 years had the highest number of claims. Workers aged 18 to 24 years had the lowest number of claims.

Workers with the most expensive claims were those aged 45 to 54 years, and 54 to 64 years. Researchers also found that workers in the 45 to 54 age category had the highest cost per full time employee. When broken out by diagnosis category, however, the age category shifted. The cost per full time employee for back and lower extremity sprains was higher for the 35 to 44, and the 25 to 34 age categories. Researchers also found that costs per full time employee for spinal disc disorders were higher in the 45 to 54 age category. Costs per full time employee for upper extremity strains were higher in the 55 to 64 age category.

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