OBJECTIVE: Over the course of the twenty-first century, work-related musculoskeletal disorders are still persisting among blue collar workers. At present, no epidemiological overview exists. Therefore, a systematic review and meta-analysis was performed on the epidemiology of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) within Europe's secondary industries.
METHODS: Five databases were screened, yielding 34 studies for the qualitative analysis and 17 for the quantitative analysis. Twelve subgroups of WMSDs were obtained for the meta-analysis by means of predefined inclusion criteria: back (overall), upper back, lower back, neck, shoulder, neck/shoulder, elbow, wrist/hand, leg (overall), hip, knee, and ankle/feet.
RESULTS: The most prevalent WMSDs were located at the back (overall), shoulder/neck, neck, shoulder, lower back and wrist WMSDs with mean 12-month prevalence values of 60, 54, 51, 50, 47, and 42%, respectively. The food industry was in the majority of subgroups the most prominent researched sector and was frequently associated with high prevalence values of WMSDs. Incidence ratios of upper limb WMSDs ranged between 0.04 and 0.26. Incidence ratios could not be calculated for other anatomical regions due to the lack of sufficient articles.
CONCLUSION: WMSDs are still highly present among blue collar workers. Relatively high prevalence values and low incidence ratios indicate a limited onset of WMSDs with however long-term complaints.