Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Norway's offshore petroleum industry

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BackgroundSince 1992, physicians have reported work-related diseases among workers in Norway's offshore petroleum industry to the Petroleum Safety Authority, as required by law.AimsTo analyse the number of reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders and risk factors (occupation and reported exposure) from 1992 to 2003.MethodsData from the Petroleum Safety Authority's registry of work-related diseases were analysed.ResultsDuring the 12 years, 3131 new work-related musculoskeletal disorders were reported and this was the category of work-related disease most frequently reported (47%). The number of work-related musculoskeletal disorders varied substantially from year to year. Disorders of the upper limb accounted for 53% and back disorders for 20% of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Lower limb disorders accounted for 16%, of which knee disorders dominated (12% of all cases). The dominant occupational categories were maintenance work (40%) and catering (21%). Frequently reported types of exposure were high physical workload, repetitive work and walking on hard surfaces/climbing stairs and ladders.ConclusionStrategies for preventing musculoskeletal disorders should be carried out to reduce the burden of high physical workload and repetitive work, especially in maintenance work and catering. Further research is recommended on the association between walking on hard surfaces/climbing stairs and ladders and knee disorders. Reporting routines need to be improved to monitor trends over time and to assess the effects of interventions.

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