Prevalence and Risk Factors of Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders and Injuries in Sri Lankan Rubber Tappers
Background: Approximately 30% of Sri Lankans work in the agricultural industry, with the third largest agricultural product being rubber. Rubber tapping involves repetitive and high paced work, static muscle loading, non-neutral body postures, and forceful physical exertion, all potential risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on two plantations near Galle, Sri Lanka to study the risk factors of MSDs and injuries in rubber tappers. Questionnaires were administered to 300 rubber tappers, and an ergonomic analysis using Quick Exposure Check was performed on 90 tappers. Univariate and multivariate analysis were used to determine risk factors for MSDs and injuries. Results: 66% of rubber tappers reported experiencing an MSD in the past 12 months. Multivariate analysis revealed that many demographic, work condition, personal and psychosocial factors were associated with MSDs. A total of 594 injuries were experienced in the last 12 months, resulting in tappers missing 1080 days of work. Factors associated with injuries were working an additional job and depression. Conclusions: MSDs and injuries are common among rubber tappers in Sri Lanka. Numerous factors contribute to the high prevalence. These results suggest a need for injury monitoring on plantations. Furthermore, work process modifications should be used to help reduce the number of MSDs and injuries.
occupational health and safety
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