Ergonomic evaluation of back and knee musculoskeletal disorders among ambulance personnel

Michael Aaron White, Purdue University


The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics (ambulance personnel) have been reported in the literature and can be detrimental to these workers not only in terms of their own safety, but also to the safety of those they serve. This thesis aimed to determine work-related risk factors associated with knee and back injuries among this occupational group, investigate an association between MSDs of the back and MSDs of the knee, and then to develop strategies for the reduction and control of these risks during the performance of their duties. Thirty-three respondents were selected from two different ambulance services in Indiana, namely EMS1 and EMS2. Data was collected using a self-reported questionnaire containing 23 questions, unstructured interview testimonials, 'ride-arounds' or real-world observations, as well as ergonomic assessments, including the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) and the revised National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lifting equation. ^ Descriptive results from the questionnaire indicated that ambulance ingress/egress was a main factor in the development of perceived knee injuries among 64% of the respondents. The results also indicated that there is a need for work practice training, as many respondents (61%) were unaware of proper patient handling techniques. Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations also showed that approximately 82% of the respondents were obese and overweight (BMI ≥ 25), which has reflected a consistency with literatures that show the prevalence of obesity among the American workforce. Statistical Analysis System (SAS) software was used to create logistic regression models, which revealed a significant positive association between prior knee injuries and prior back injuries (p<0.032, &agr;=0.05). The analysis also revealed significant positive associations between prior back injuries occurring more among males (p<0.034, &agr;=0.05), and prior knee injuries with the job task of getting in and out of the ambulance (p<0.013, &agr;=0.05). The implementation of engineering controls, ergonomic programs, as well as best work practice training would be beneficial in reducing the risk of occupational injuries and MSDs among ambulance personnel.^




James D. McGlothlin, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Occupational Health and Safety

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