Physical working conditions as covered in European monitoring questionnaires

Tidsskriftartikel - 2017


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of workers with demanding physical working conditions in the European work force remains high, and occupational physical exposures are considered important risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), a major burden for both workers and society. Exposures to physical workloads are therefore part of the European nationwide surveys to monitor working conditions and health. An interesting question is to what extent the same domains, dimensions and items referring to the physical workloads are covered in the surveys. The purpose of this paper is to determine 1) which domains and dimensions of the physical workloads are monitored in surveys at the national level and the EU level and 2) the degree of European consensus among these surveys regarding coverage of individual domains and dimensions.

METHOD: Items on physical workloads used in one European wide/Spanish and five other European nationwide work environment surveys were classified into the domains and dimensions they cover, using a taxonomy agreed upon among all participating partners.

RESULTS: The taxonomy reveals that there is a modest overlap between the domains covered in the surveys, but when considering dimensions, the results indicate a lower agreement. The phrasing of items and answering categories differs between the surveys. Among the domains, the three domains covered by all surveys are "lifting, holding & carrying of loads/pushing & pulling of loads", "awkward body postures" and "vibrations". The three domains covered less well, that is only by three surveys or less, are "physical work effort", "working sitting", and "mixed exposure".

CONCLUSIONS: This is the fırst thorough overview to evaluate the coverage of domains and dimensions of self-reported physical workloads in a selection of European nationwide surveys. We hope the overview will provide input to the revisions and updates of the individual countries' surveys in order to enhance coverage of relevant domains and dimensions in all surveys and to increase the informational value of the surveys.


Tynes T, Aagestad C, Thorsen SV, Andersen LL, Perkio-Makela M, García FJP, Blanco LG, Vermeylen G, Parent-Thirion A, Hooftman W, Houtman I, Liebers F, Burr H, Formazin M. Physical working conditions as covered in European monitoring questionnaires. BMC Public Health 2017;17(1):544.
doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4465-7

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