Saturday, August 27, 2005

Comparison of Ergonomic Risk Factors between Men and Women in the Same Workplace

Data reviewed by BrooklynDodger show that women use more disability time than men in blue collar jobs. Other data show that half the time off the job is due to injury and musculoskeletal diagnoses.

Some suggest that not going to work when sick might be related to women living longer, and there is peer reviewed research showing that people who go to work sick die younger.

Hypothetically, increased sickness absense time might arise from women doing more work at home, to lower threshold for taking time off, to taking time off to care for dependents at home.

Another explanation might be differential musculoskeletal risk factors at work. Folk ergonomics preceding the force-frequency-posture paradigm put women in the lower external force jobs, which could hypothetically increase upper extremity risk factors. Reduced body size in relation to workstation design might increase awkwardness of posture. Differential placement in jobs with lower external force, which might involved increased repetition or more time in pinch grip for fine work.

Abstracted below is a study from Sweden - different triggers on taking time off the job - which has limited power. BrooklynDodger forgets the job analysis method, and whether statistical tests were used on this very small cohort. Increased symptoms and increased time off the job were shown for women, although these may not be statistically significant. Increased ergonomic risks to the women were also suggested.

Applied Ergonomics 35 (2004) 521-529
Do work technique and musculoskeletal symptoms differ between men and women performing the same type of work tasks?
Raymond Dahlberg_, Lena Karlqvist, Carina Bildt, Karin Nykvist

National Institute for Working Life, SE-112 79 Stockholm, Sweden
Received 21 November 2002; received in revised form 29 February 2004; accepted 21 June 2004

Â… women worked more frequently and during longer times with their hands above shoulder height than men. Working with hands above shoulder height is considered a risk factor for neck and shoulder disorders according to previous studies. Workplace design factors were probably a reason for differences in working technique between men and women. A higher proportion of women than men reported shoulder symptoms. Women spent more time on household activities than men, which indicates a higher total workload in paid and unpaid work.

The cross-sectional case study took place in a manufacturing company, producing metal sections for the construction industryÂ… All 61 workers in the studied department were invited to take part in the study. Â… 55 (90%) respondedÂ… 32 men and 23 women formed the study group. During the study period, short-time sickness absence (1Â-14 days) was 7.3% of total working time for men and 5.1% for women. Long-time sickness absence (more than 15 days) was 3.5% of total working time for men and 11.7% for women.

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