Search all journals

October/November 2012 (vol. 09/3)

ContentsFeaturesNewsLegal NewsResearch DigestResearch PlusCPD

Research Plus

Low back pain risks

Previous reviews have failed to find convincing evidence for a relationship between low back pain (LBP) and physical risk factors. However, a prospective study of 1,086 workers in both blue- and white-collar jobs in 34 Dutch companies finds that cumulative low back load (CLBL) is a significant risk factor for the development of low back pain and is more consistently associated with LBP than are individual risk factors – ie lifting (repetition and load) or time in a fixed posture. Physical load – taking into account trunk flexion, trunk rotation and arm elevation – was assessed in the workplace using video observations and force measurements, and used to calculate CLBL. Personal, leisure-time, occupational and psychosocial factors were assessed by questionnaire. LBP was assessed at baseline and annually for three years. Workers in the highest of five CLBL exposure groups were at significantly higher risk of LBP compared with those in the lower exposure groups. Ergonomic interventions should be targeted at those whose work involves combinations of awkward postures and/or high exposure tasks.


Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation 2012; online first: doi: 10.1007/s10926-012-9375-z.


Occupational Health at Work October/November 2012 (vol. 09/3) pp41