Musculoskeletal Pain and Baggage Handlers

Airplane workers, especially baggage handlers are at continued risk for injuries because of the nature of their work. With constant repetitive movements, such as kneeling, bending and lifting, baggage handlers are prone to musculoskeletal pain. It is common for airline workers to seek the help of an attorney to help them receive compensation for their injuries.

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Musculoskeletal Pain

A recent study, conducted by Swedish researchers studied the instances of low back and shoulder musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among baggage handlers working in the country’s 41 airports. The goal of the study was to document physical and psychosocial conditions in the work environment that could be used to develop interventions that would improve the health of baggage workers. Out of 1,400 baggage handlers, 806 were eligible to participate in the study based on being active, full-time employees during the time of data collection. Out of the 806 baggage handlers, 525 employees participated. 98% were male and 2% were female.

One Important Question

The baggage handlers were asked one specific health question, “In general, how would you rate your health?” The researchers studied the instances of the past year regarding:

  1. Low back pain (LBP)
  2. Shoulder pain (SP)
  3. Pain interfering with work (PIW)
  4. Intensity of pain (PINT) 10-grade scale ranging from “no pain” to “very, very high”

Study participants were asked to answer “yes” or “no” to the first three questions and answer the fourth with the number that corresponded to their pain intensity.

The Results of the Study

The study found that overall, 70% of the males and 60% of the females surveyed suffered from pain in their lower back or shoulders in the past year. Further analysis showed that:

  • 45% of all surveyed had both lower back and shoulder pain
  • 30% of all reporting lower back pain had only back pain
  • 70% of all reporting lower back pain reported having shoulder pain also
  • 16% of workers reporting shoulder pain had only shoulder pain
  • 84% of workers reporting shoulder pain reported having back pain also

Of the workers reporting pain, 328 of the 339 reporting lower back pain and 265 of the 285 reporting shoulder pain answered whether the pain interfered with their job:

  • 46% reported lower back pain inhibited their work
  • 34% reported shoulder pain inhibited their work

The results for pain intensity showed that participants that reported higher than “5” were at a greater risk for suffering absences due to long-term sickness than their counterparts that reported less than “5.”