LOW BACK DISODERS AMONG WASTE COLLECTION WORKERS: PREVALENCE AND RISK FACTORS
Background Waste workers’ activities are an important component of the waste management industry. As the sector evolves reports of injuries and fatal accidents in the industry demand notice, particularly common and debilitating musculoskeletal disorders such as low back disorders (LBD). Objectives The study objectives were 1) to perform a systematic review on the prevalence and risk factors of LBD among waste collection workers and 2) to conduct an ergonomics assessment among workers in a Canadian formal recycling sector. Methods Objective 1: A comprehensive search was conducted in three databases with search term categories “low back disorders” and “waste collection workers”. Two reviewers screened and extracted data from identified articles. Objective 2: Recycling workers participated in a questionnaire on work tasks and musculoskeletal symptoms. A motion-tracking inertial sensor was also used to measure trunk movement, which included time spent in various movement ranges and velocities. Results Objective 1: Only thirteen full-text articles met the study criteria and underwent data extraction. The majority of articles reported a 12-month prevalence of LBD between 16-74%. Although none of the included studies quantified relationships between risk factors and LBD, the main suggested risk factors for LBD included awkward posture. Objective 2: The majority (73%) of questionnaire participants reported low back symptoms in the last 12-months. The median 90th percentile values for trunk flexion/extension were: 37.0° for workers sorting containers/polyethylene terephthalate, 29.4° for workers at pre-sorting workstations, and 20.0° for workers sorting old corrugated cardboard/browns. The workers spent 38% of their working hours flexed > 20°. Conclusions The ergonomic assessment suggested that recycling worker’s posture exposure exceeds levels previously shown to be related to elevated risk of LBD. The awkward working posture might predispose recycling workers to developing LBD.
low back disorder, scavengers, waste pickers,ergonomics, exposure assessment
Master of Science (M.Sc.)
Community Health and Epidemiology
Community and Population Health Science