Workplace-related musculoskeletal injury trends in the United States from 1992 to 2018

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INTRODUCTION: The purpose of our study is to assess workplace-related musculoskeletal (wrMSK) injury trends by utilizing Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. We hypothesize that trunk injuries are the most commonly reported, injuries occur most frequently in the manufacturing sector, and that injury type occurrence differs according to body region affected.

METHODS: This study assessed wrMSK injury data provided by the BLS from 1992 to 2018. The three main body regions analyzed were lower extremity (LE), upper extremity (UE), and trunk. Injury data was also assessed by industrial sector (Agriculture, Manufacturing, Healthcare, and Construction) and injury type (fractures, multiple injuries, sprains/strains/tears, tendonitis, cuts/lacerations, pain/soreness, and bruises). Negative binomial regression and pairwise comparisons with a Benjamini-Hochberg adjustment were utilized to compare calculated incidence rate ratios for wrMSK injuries. Exponentiated beta estimates were used to calculate the estimated annual percent changes of wrMSK injuries within each industrial sector.

RESULTS: Occurrence of wrMSK injuries from 1992 to 2018 was significantly lower for LE when compared to both upper extremity and trunk (p < 0.001). Manufacturing is shown to be the industry with the most wrMSK injuries in each of UE, LE, and trunk. wrMSK injuries were shown to decrease in each industrial sector over the timespan assessed, with the greatest percent change occurring in the manufacturing sector. Lacerations and tendonitis were the most common diagnosis types in UE, while pain/soreness and strains/sprains/tears were most common in trunk and bruises were most common in LE.

DISCUSSION: From 1992 to 2018, trunk injuries were the most frequently occurring wrMSK injury, but not to a significantly higher degree than upper extremity injuries. wrMSK injury types that may require orthopedic surgical care affect specific body regions to different degrees, with cuts/lacerations and tendonitis most commonly affecting the upper extremity. Thus, it appears that wrMSK injuries in the upper extremity are of particular importance from an orthopedic care perspective.

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ePub ahead of print