The materials handling industry performs is an essential function in the world economy, however, it is plagued with occupationally related injuries and illnesses. Understanding the risk factors may assist this industry in alleviating these injuries and illnesses, as well as their associated costs.
Forty-eight personal and non-occupational risk factors were measured and evaluated for statistically significant relationships with occupational injury in 442 volunteer manual material handlers who worked for three different companies, at nine US locations, with 15 different job descriptions. OSHA 200 logs were used to ascertain evidence of occupational injury within this population for 1 year after the testing and measurement was completed.
Higher occurrences of injury were significantly associated with six risk factors in the univariate model (odds ratios 1.51–4.00). The significantly (P < 0.05) related risk factors in the univariate model were aerobic power, smoking status, perceived fitness level, fishing/hunting as a hobby, speed limit obeyance, and witnessing or being involved in a violent fight. In the multivariate analysis, five risk factors (aerobic power, smoking status, percent body fat, body mass index, and sit-and-reach measured flexibility) were significantly (P < 0.05) associated with occupational injury. Odds ratios in the multivariate analysis varied from 1.42 to 10.11.
Evidence of an association of occupational injury occurrence with certain risk factors presented in personal and non-occupational univariate and multivariate models is shown. In industry, effective injury reduction programs should go beyond traditional methods of job-related ergonomic risk factors and include personal factors such as smoking, weight control, and alcohol abuse. Am. J. Ind. Med. 49:249–260, 2006. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.