Co-funded by the
Erasmus+ Programme
of the European Union

Jobs at risk of MSDs 17.10.2017

Back painSeveral studies shows that wide proportion of labor population is at high risk of suffering a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (WMSD). Many activities require maintaining specific postures and perform repetitive tasks for long periods during the workday.

Some diseases like lower back, neck pain and carpal tunnel syndrome present high indexes of the population affected (between 15%-60%) (Collins et al., 2011).

MSDs in Europa

According to European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), every year millions of European workers (in all types of jobs and employment sectors) are affected by work-related MSDs. Many European studies provide substantial evidence that MSD such as back, neck and upper limb disorders are a significant ill health and that the costs for dealing with this problem increased.

MSD are commonly reported work-related health problem by European workers: 30% complain of backache; 17% complain of muscular pains in their arms and legs; 45% report working in painful or tiring positions; 33% are required to handle heavy loads in their work.

Occupations at risk of MSDs

Occupations at Risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders, According to Ramazzini’s De Morbis Artificum Diatriba
Athletes Fishermen Razor and lancet grinders Weavers
Bakers and millers Horsemen Runners Well-diggers
Blacksmiths Hunters Sailors and rowers Workers on minutes objects
Brick-makers Miners Sedentary workers Workers who stand
Carpenters Porters Soap-makers Writers and notaries
Coppersmiths Potters The learned
Farmers Printers Voice-trainers and singers


List of MSD´s and work position population affected (OSHA, 2000)
Body parts
Symptoms Possible causes Workers Affected Disease name
Thumbs Pain at the base of the thumbs Twisting and gripping Butchers, housekeepers, packers, seamstresses, cutters De Quervain’s disease
Fingers Difficulty moving finger; snapping and jerking movements Repeatedly using the index fingers Meatpackers, poultry workers, carpenters, electronic assemblers Trigger finger
Shoulders Pain, stiffness Working with the hands above the head Power press operators, welders, painters, assembly line workers Rotator cuff tendinitis
Hands, wrists Pain, swelling Repetitive or forceful hand and wrist motions Core making, poultry process-Ing, meatpacking Tenosynovitis
Fingers, hands Numbness, tingling; ashen skin; loss of feeling and control Exposure to vibration Chain saw, pneumatic hammer, and gasoline-powered tool operators Raynaud’s syndrome (white finger)
Fingers, wrists Tingling, numbness, severe pain; loss of strength, sensation in the thumbs, index, or middle or half of the ring fingers Repetitive and forceful manual tasks without time to recover Meat and poultry and garment workers, upholsterers, assemblers, VDT operators, cashiers Carpal tunnel syndrome
Back Low back pain, shooting pain or numbness in the upper legs Whole body vibration Truck and bus drivers, tractor and subway operators; warehouse workers; nurses’ aides; grocery cashiers; baggage handlers Back disability