Most common ergonomic injuries among healthcare workers

Shada M. Alharbi, Abdullah K. Alghanem, Hanan A. Alessa, Raghad S. Aldoobi, Fatimah A. Busayli, Karam S. Alharbi, Abdulrahman S. Alzahrani, Khalid A. Kashkari, Mohammad M. Huraib, Shatha S. A. Harbi, Yousra E. Higazy


In the different healthcare settings, evidence shows that healthcare workers can be exposed to various work-related hazards, which might be ergonomics, biological, psychological, and physical hazards. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are frequently reported among the different healthcare workers, and estimates indicate that surgeons are the most commonly affected. Disorders and injuries related to the backbone, shoulders, wrist, and knees are mainly reported by healthcare workers as relevant ergonomic hazards. In the present literature review, we have discussed the commonest ergonomics that have been reported in the literature among healthcare workers. Musculoskeletal disorders as back, knee, and wrist pain are the most frequently reported among the different settings. We have also assessed the different reasons that might attribute to the development of such events, and increased workload and working hours, in addition to the harmful postures are the main reasons that have been reported in the literature. Each clinical and surgical setting might be associated with significant risk factors over others, and therefore, specific interventions should be applied within these settings to enhance satisfaction among healthcare workers. Healthcare authorities are mainly responsible to achieve this. However, further epidemiological investigations are still needed to adequately plan the righteous interventional programs.


Ergonomics, Hazard, Risk factor, Musculoskeletal, Healthcare, Epidemiology, Back pain

Full Text:



Wicker S, Jung J, Allwinn R, Gottschalk R, Rabenau HF. Prevalence and prevention of needlestick injuries among health care workers in a German university hospital. Int Arch Occup Env Health. 2008;81(3):347-54.

El-Qushayri AE, Dahy A, Reda A, Mahmoud MA, Abdel Mageed S, Kamel AMA, Ghozy S. A closer look to the high burden of the psychiatric disorders among health care workers (HCWs) in Egypt during COVID-19 outbreak: A meta-analysis of 3137 HCWs. Epidemiol Health. 2021:2021045.

Yasobant S, Rajkumar P. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among health care professionals: A cross-sectional assessment of risk factors in a tertiary hospital, India. Indian J Occup Env Med. 2014;18(2):75.

Yasobant S, Rajkumar P. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders among health care professionals: A cross-sectional assessment of risk factors in a tertiary hospital, India. Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2014;18(2):75-81.

Ghosh T. Occupational health and hazards among health care workers. Int J Occup Safety Health. 2013;3(1):1-4.

Hamid A, Ahmad AS, Dar S, Sohail S, Akram F, Qureshi MI. Ergonomics Hazards and Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Workers of Health Care Facilities. Curr World Env. 2018;13:251-8.

Karahan A, Kav S, Abbasoglu A, Dogan N. Low back pain: prevalence and associated risk factors among hospital staff. J Adv Nurs. 2009;65(3):516-24.

Rathore FA, Attique R, Asmaa Y. Prevalence and Perceptions of Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Hospital Nurses in Pakistan: A Cross-sectional Survey. Cureus. 2017;9(1):1001.

Alexopoulos EC, Burdorf A, Kalokerinou A. A comparative analysis on musculoskeletal disorders between Greek and Dutch nursing personnel. Int Arch Occup Env Health. 2006;79(1):82-8.

Picavet HS, Schouten JS. Musculoskeletal pain in the Netherlands: prevalences, consequences and risk groups, the DMC(3)-study. Pain. 2003;102(1-2):167-78.

Mehrdad R, Dennerlein JT, Morshedizadeh M. Musculoskeletal disorders and ergonomic hazards among Iranian physicians. Arch Iranian Med. 2012;15(6):370-4.

Boyer J, Galizzi M, Cifuentes M, d'Errico A, Gore R, Punnett L, Slatin C; Promoting Healthy Safe Employment (PHASE) in Healthcare Team. Ergonomic and socioeconomic risk factors for hospital workers' compensation injury claims. Am J Ind Med. 2009;52(7):551-62.

Faber A, Giver H, Strøyer J, Hannerz H. Are low back pain and low physical capacity risk indicators for dropout among recently qualified eldercare workers? A follow-up study. Scand J Public Health. 2010;38(8):810-6.

Luime JJ, Kuiper JI, Koes BW, Verhaar JA, Miedema HS, Burdorf A. Work-related risk factors for the incidence and recurrence of shoulder and neck complaints among nursing-home and elderly-care workers. Scand J Work Env Health. 2004;30(4):279-86.

Burch JB, Tom J, Zhai Y, Criswell L, Leo E, Ogoussan K. Shiftwork impacts and adaptation among health care workers. Occup Med (Oxford, England). 2009;59(3):159-66.

Alamgir H, Yu S, Chavoshi N, Ngan K. Occupational injury among full-time, part-time and casual health care workers. Occup Med (Oxford, England). 2008;58(5):348-54.

Ndejjo R, Musinguzi G, Yu X. Occupational health hazards among healthcare workers in Kampala, Uganda. J Env Public Health. 2015;913741.

Senthil A, Anandh B, Jayachandran P, et al. Perception and prevalence of work-related health hazards among health care workers in public health facilities in southern India. International journal of occupational and environmental health. 2015;21(1):74-81.

Kant IJ, de Jong LC, van Rijssen-Moll M, Borm PJ. A survey of static and dynamic work postures of operating room staff. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 1992;63(6):423-8.

Kułagowska E. The musculoskeletal system load during work performed by nurse anesthetists. Medycyna Pracy. 2008;59(4):287-92.

Kułagowska E. Musculoskeletal system load in operating room nurses and its determinants. Medycyna Pracy. 2009;60(3):187-95.

McAtamney L, Nigel Corlett E. RULA: a survey method for the investigation of work-related upper limb disorders. Applied Ergonomics. 1993;24(2):91-9.

Lauer W, Ibach B, Radermacher K. Knowledge-based OR table positioning assistant for orthopedic surgery. IFMBE Proceedings. 2008;22:1676-8.

Bartnicka J. Knowledge-based ergonomic assessment of working conditions in surgical ward–A case study. Safety Sci. 2015;71:178-88.

Herzog N, Beharic R, Beharic A, Buchmeister B. Ergonomic Analysis and Simulation in Department of Ophthalmology. Procedia Manufacturing. 2015;3:128-35.

Engels JA, Landeweerd JA, Kant Y. An OWAS-based analysis of nurses' working postures. Ergonomics. 1994;37(5):909-19.

Hignett S. Using computerized OWAS for postural analysis of nursing work. In contemporary Ergonomics. In: Taylor & Francis, London. 1994.

Hignett S. Postural analysis of nursing work. Applied ergonomics. 1996;27(3):171-6.

Best M. An evaluation of Manutention training in preventing back strain and resultant injuries in nurses. Safety Science. 1997;25(1):207-22.

Engels JA, van der Gulden JW, Senden TF, Kolk JJ, Binkhorst RA. The effects of an ergonomic-educational course. Postural load, perceived physical exertion, and biomechanical errors in nursing. Int Arch Occup Env Health. 1998;71(5):336-42.

de Bruijn I, Engels JA, van der Gulden JW. A simple method to evaluate the reliability of OWAS observations. Applied Ergono. 1998;29(4):281-3.

Stričević J, Balantic Z, Turk Z, Celan D. Ergonomic Analysis of Workload Diminution by the Use of Assistive Technical Equipment at Nursing Care. Health MED. 2009;3:212-8.

Nowotny-Czupryna O, Naworska B, Brzęk A. Professional experience and ergonomic aspects of midwives' work. Int J Occup Med Env Health. 2012;25(3):265-74.

Vujica Herzog N, Vujica Beharic R, Beharic A, Buchmeister B. Ergonomic analysis of ophthalmic nurse workplace using 3D simulation. Int J Simulation Modelling. 2014;13(4).

Ünver S, Acar H, Kaya A. Determination of Work Postures with Different Ergonomic Risk Assessment Methods in Forest Nurseries. Fresenius Environmental Bulletin. 2017;26.

Moreira HS, Moreira MB, Vilagra JM, Galvão IM, de Oliveira Júnior AS, de Lima AC. Analysis of the compensatory postures adopted by day caregivers through OWAS-Ovako Working Posture Analysing System. Work (Reading, Mass). 2012;41:5746-8.

Doormaal MT, Driessen AP, Landeweerd JA, Drost MR. Physical workload of ambulance assistants. Ergonomics. 1995;38(2):361-76.

White HA, Lee Kirby R. Folding and unfolding manual wheelchairs: an ergonomic evaluation of health-care workers. Applied ergonomics. 2003;34(6):571-9.

Pais FL, Azevedo PR, Medeiros LH, de Freitas IB, Stamato C. Ergonomic assessment among radiology technologists: a survey in a hospital. Work (Reading, Mass). 2012;41:1821-7.

Sergesketter AR, Lubkin DT, Shammas RL. The Impact of Ergonomics on Recruitment to Surgical Fields: A Multi-Institutional Survey Study. J Surg Res. 2019;236:238-46.

Knuttinen MG, Zurcher KS, Wallace A. Ergonomics in IR. J Vasc Interventional Radiol. 2021;32(2):235-41.

Benjamin JL, Meisinger QC. Ergonomics in the Development and Prevention of Musculoskeletal Injury in Interventional Radiologists. Tech Vasc Intervent Radiol. 2018;21(1):16-20.

Gómez-Galán M, Pérez-Alonso J, Callejón-Ferre Á J, López-Martínez J. Musculoskeletal disorders: OWAS review. Industrial Health. 2017;55(4):314-37.