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Back injuries prominent in work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2016

August 28, 2018

Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries or illnesses that result from overexertion or repetitive motion. They include soft-tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, tears, hernias, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders that result in days away from work most commonly involve the back alone. In 2016, musculoskeletal disorders involving the back accounted for 38.5 percent of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders (134,550 back cases out of 349,050 total cases).

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders resulting in days away from work in selected occupations by part of body, all ownerships, 2016
Occupation Back Shoulder Leg Arm Abdomen Multiple parts All Other

All occupations

38.5% 14.9% 11.5% 5.1% 5.0% 5.4% 19.7%

Nursing assistants

52.8 12.6 5.9 3.1 1.8 8.2 15.5

Janitors and cleaners

37.5 16.2 13.0 4.9 4.0 8.5 15.8

Stock clerks and order fillers

45.7 16.5 9.5 4.7 4.0 2.6 17.0

Maintenance and repair workers

42.5 11.4 12.9 6.5 5.9 5.1 15.7

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers

32.4 19.2 16.3 5.1 5.3 6.3 15.5

Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand

43.0 14.8 7.1 4.8 6.5 3.9 19.9

Nursing assistants experienced 10,330 back-related musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2016. Laborers and hand material movers experienced another 10,660 cases. These occupations accounted for 15.6 percent of all the back-related cases in 2016.

The most common body parts affected by musculoskeletal disorders vary by occupation. Among nursing assistants, more than half of their cases in 2016 affected the back. Compared with other occupations, heavy tractor-trailer truck drivers had a greater proportion of injuries that affected the shoulder (19.2 percent) and leg (16.3 percent).

These data are from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program. To learn more, see "Employer-Reported Workplace Injuries and Illnesses — 2016." See our definitions for more information. Musculoskeletal disorders do not include impact events such as falls or struck by object.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Back injuries prominent in work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases in 2016 at (visited June 15, 2024).

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