Saf Health Work.  2010 Dec;1(2):124-133.

Risk Factors of Work-related Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders in Male Shipyard Workers: Structural Equation Model Analysis

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Dongguk University School of Medicine, Gyeongju, Korea.
  • 2Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Suwon, Korea.
  • 3Occupational Safety and Health Research Institute, Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency, Incheon, Korea.
  • 4Department of Occupational Medicine, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


This study was conducted to develop a model describing the interaction between lifestyle, job, and postural factors and parts of the upper extremities in shipyard workers.
A questionnaire survey was given to 2,140 workers at a shipyard in Ulsan City. The questionnaire consisted of questions regarding the subjects' general characteristics, lifestyle, tenure, physical burden, job control, posture and musculoskeletal symptoms. The overall relationship between variables was analyzed by a structural equation model (SEM).
The positive rate of upper extremity musculoskeletal symptoms increased in employees who worked longer hours, had severe physical burden, and did not have any control over their job. Work with a more frequent unstable posture and for longer hours was also associated with an increased positive rate of musculoskeletal symptoms. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that unstable posture and physical burden were closely related to the positive rate of musculoskeletal symptoms after controlling for age, smoking, drinking, exercise, tenure, and job control. In SEM analysis, work-related musculoskeletal disease was influenced directly and indirectly by physical and job stress factors, lifestyle, age, and tenure (p < 0.05). The strongest correlations were found between physical factors and work-related musculoskeletal disease.
The model in this study provides a better approximation of the complexity of the actual relationship between risk factors and work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Among the variables evaluated in this study, physical factors (work posture) had the strongest association with musculoskeletal disorders.


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders; Risk factors; Shipyard; Structural equation model
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