Preserving lumbar spine physiology in the cleaning industry

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Journal Article
Journal of Health, Safety and Environment, 2017, 33 (3)
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© CCH. Background: Lumbar spine disc breakdown may begin as early as the second decade of life. Peak bone mass occurs between the ages of 16 and 25 years and continuously decreases thereafter where bone loss occurs at a faster rate in females increasing throughout menopause. The objectives of this study were to examine the relationship of age and gender against lumbar or non-lumbar musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) diagnosis and post-injury recovery time. Methods: Records of 144 MSD-related incidents that were recorded between 2012 and 2016 (five years) were retrieved from the injury register of a large commercial cleaning organisation (n = 700 cleaners) for analysis. The mean age of the organisations workforce was 57 years of age and 62% of cleaners were female by payroll. Results: The overall non-lumbar related MSD was higher within the older age (>45 years) group (n = 53) as opposed to the younger age (<45 years) group (n = 34). Consequently, more lumbar spinerelated MSDs occurred in the younger age (<45 years) group (n = 33) than the older age (>45 years) group (n = 24). A strong relationship was identified between the age of a cleaner (greater than or less than 45 years) and the type of MSD (lumbar or non-lumbar) (p = 0.027). It was identified that that 110 (76.38%) of cleaners recovered from their MSD within four weeks. Of those in the younger age (<45 years) group then 16.42% (n = 11) took longer than four weeks to recover. Of those in the older age (>45 years) group then 29.87% (n = 23) took longer than four weeks to recover. A relationship between age and recovery time was identified at the 90% confidence interval (p = 0.058). Conclusions: It was identified that non-lumbar musculoskeletal injury is more likely to occur as one ages. Furthermore, it was identified that age may have an adverse effect upon injury recovery time. It was recommended that manual handling, return to work training programs and work schedules be periodically reviewed to strategically target the potential impacts of age and gender. It was also recommended that task-specific warm-up programs be developed to reduce the potential of cold lifting-related incidents.
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