Carpal tunnel syndrome among grocery store workers



The California Department of Health Services evaluated carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a median nerve entrapment condition associated with forceful and repetitive wrist motion, among grocery store workers at a large California supermarket where a CTS cluster had been reported. Forceful and repetitive wrist motion was measured, in three exposure levels, through a job classification scheme based upon type of work tasks and average time per week spent performing these tasks. A medical questionnaire and measurements of median sensory nerve conduction were used to measure CTS. CTS prevalence was 23% based upon a sample of 56 participants drawn from a workforce of 69 employees. A relative risk of 8.3 (95% confidence interval 2.6–26.4) for a history of CTS-like symptoms between the high and low exposure level groups held up after adjustment for the potential confounders of age, sex, alcohol consumption, and high-risk medical history. It was concluded that the basic principles of good ergonomic design should be used to prevent or diminish the risk of musculoskeletal injury in the workplace. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.