Prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in agriculture workers in Korea and preventative interventions
journal contributionposted on 01.03.2019, 15:04 by Dohyung Kee, Roger Haslam
BACKGROUND: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are estimated to be the most common and frequent of all occupational diseases in agriculture in Korea, but the full extent of the problem has yet to be surveyed. OBJECTIVE: This paper presents the results of a survey investigating the extent of WMSDs among self-employed farmers in Korea. It also describes ergonomics based preventive interventions initiated by the Korean government. METHOID: The prevalence of WMSDs was surveyed among 358 farmers using a questionnaire adapted from the Nordic questionnaires, employing three case definitions. RESULTS: The results showed that the overall prevalence rates of WMSDs by case definition 1 (any symptoms), 2 (symptoms with a pain intensity of moderate or greater), and 3 (symptoms with a pain intensity of high or greater) were 97.2%, 83.2%, and 39.7% respectively and that the shoulder, knee and lower back disorder rates were higher than those of other body parts. Compared to the prevalence rates of WMSDs for workers in other industries in Korea as well as USA farmers, the overall rates for farmers in Korea were much higher. The interventions, which adopted a participatory approach involving government, farmers, ergonomics, technical and industrial hygiene experts, showed benefits in terms of work efficiency, safety and farmer satisfaction. CONCLUSIONS: The high WMSD symptom prevalence showed that agriculture is one of the most hazardous industries in Korea, and the Korean government’s interventions were effective and successful.
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017R1D1A1B03028532).