Cold exposure and low back pain in store workers in Israel

Eva Dovrat, Michal Katz-Leurer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: In recent years the demand for frozen food in the Western world has been growing, and the number of cold storeroom has increased proportionately. There are very few studies documenting cold exposure as a risk factor for musculoskeletal symptoms (MSS). This study describes the prevalence of MSS, in particular low back pain (LBP) among cold storeroom workers in Israel and explores the connection between exposure to cold at work and MSS. Methods: A cross-section survey included 122 males between the ages of 20-45 who had been employed for at least 1 year in three food stores in Israel. The subjects were classified as an exposed group working at temperatures of -20°C and a control group working at room temperatures (20°C to 25°C). The prevalence rate of MSS, in particular LBP, was assessed using the Standardized Nordic Questionnaire. Results: Cold storeroom workers had increased odds of reporting back symptoms in the previous 12 months (odds ratio (OR) = 2.9, 95% CI = 1.3-6.7) and during work (OR = 4.8, 95% CI = 1.8-13.0) comparedwith their colleagues working in storerooms at regular temperatures. Among workers who described themselves as satisfied at work, the cold storeroom workers had increased odds of reporting back symptoms in the last 12 months and during work (OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.5-10.6, OR = 9.4, 95% CI = 2.0-44.6, respectively) while there was no association between store type and LBP among dissatisfied workers. Conclusions: The results of this study strengthen the hypothesis that workers in cold environments are at a greater risk of LBP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-631
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Volume50
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2007

Keywords

  • Cold
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Occupational injury
  • Risk factors

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