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Physical and psychosocial work conditions among baggage handlers in six Swedish airports
University of Gävle, Faculty of Health and Occupational Studies, Department of Occupational and Public Health Sciences, CBF. University of Gävle, Centre for Musculoskeletal Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9612-3766
Uppsala University, Department of Medical Sciences, Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The Vocational Training and Working Environment Council.
The Vocational Training and Working Environment Council.
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2012 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Introduction

Flight baggage handlers are mainly engaged in sorting luggage or cargo, loading and unloading it to and from the airplanes. The Vocational Training and Working Environment Council, TYA - formed by employer’s and employee’s organizations in the transportation sector - initiated a scientific study in 2009 to investigate the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders and their suspected determinants in six Swedish airports involving a total of about 1000 handlers in 14 cargo- and handling companies. Encouraged by an initial literature review, the present field study was designed to contain qualitative, questionnaire-based, and observational surveys of working conditions, as well as extensive direct measurements of postures using full-shift inclinometry. This paper reports the design and results of the questionnaire part of the study.

Method

All baggage handlers working at least half-time (n=1044) were encouraged to fill in an extensive questionnaire handed out at the workplace by a research team member. In general the researcher collected the questionnaires at the same occasion. The questionnaire addressed general health, work capacity and physical exposures in relevant handling tasks. It also included a modified version of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ), the Nordic Council of Minister’s Questionnaire (NMQ) on disorders, and the SOFI-questionnaire measuring perceived fatigue.

Results

The response rate was 73%. The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in the back, shoulders and wrists during the last 12 months was 70%, 60% and 45%. Positive effects of devices used for reducing perceived physical load were confirmed. The handlers expressed a low confidence in the leadership, and insufficient feedback, information and influence at work. Fatigue particularly occurred in the dimensions lack of energy and physical discomfort.

Discussion

The observed prevalence of low back pain (70%) is high, and in parity with results among nurses in Sweden (64%; Josephson et al. 1997) and China (56%; Smith et al. 2004). Further examination of questionnaires, interviews and direct posture measurements will identify determinants to consider for intervention to reduce the prevalence of disorders among the baggage handlers.

Josephson M, et al. Occup Environ Med 1997;54:681-685.

Smith DR, et al. Occup Med 2004;54:579-582

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012.
Keywords [en]
work environment, work exposure, musculoskeletal disorders
National Category
Occupational Health and Environmental Health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-12690OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-12690DiVA, id: diva2:549160
Conference
NES2012 Ergonomics for sustainability and growth, 19-22 August 2012, Saltsjöbaden, Sweden
Available from: 2012-09-03 Created: 2012-08-28 Last updated: 2018-03-13Bibliographically approved

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Bergsten, EvaMathiassen, Svend Erik

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Citation style
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  • ieee
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Output format
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