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Objective

Firefighting is a dangerous profession with high injury rates, particularly musculoskeletal (MS), but limited longitudinal data is available to examine predictors of MS injuries in this population.

Design and Methods

The relationship between personal individual, nonoccupational factors (e.g., demographic characteristics, body composition, fitness, and health behaviors) and incident injury and incident MS injury in a prospective cohort of 347 firefighters from the central United States was examined.

Results

Baseline weight status was a significant predictor of incident MS injury, with obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg m−2) firefighters 5.2 times more likely (95% CI = 1.1-23.4) to experience a MS injury than their normal weight (BMI = 18.5-24.9 kg m−2) colleagues over the course of the study. Similarly, firefighters who were obese based on WC (>102.0 cm) were almost three times as likely (OR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.2-6.4) to have a MS injury at follow-up.

Conclusions

Findings highlight the importance of focusing on firefighters' body composition, nutrition and fitness as a means of decreasing risk for injury.