Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are thought to be declining based on Bureau of Labor Statistics survey data, but there is also evidence of MSD under-reporting, raising the possibility of contrary trends. The magnitude of MSD under-reporting over time, and its industry distribution have not been adequately described.
Capture-recapture analysis of 7 years of Connecticut MSD (1995–2001), utilizing Workers' Compensation and physician reporting data was performed.
Only 5.5%–7.9% of MSD cases appear to be reported to Workers Compensation annually. The capture-recapture estimated average annual rate for upper-extremity MSD was 133.1 per 10,000 employed persons, far above BLS rates. By industry, Manufacturing, State Government, and the Finance/Insurance/Real Estate sectors all had significantly higher MSD rates than Wholesale/Retail Trade.
Upper-extremity MSD appears to be significantly under-reported, and rates are not decreasing over time. Capture-recapture methods provide an improved surveillance method for monitoring temporal trends in injury rates. Am. J. Ind. Med. 48:40–49, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.