The effect of occupational-related low back pain on the functional activities among manual workers in construction companies

  • Simon Himalowa
  • José M. Frantz


Low back pain is the most prevalent musculoskeletal condition and one of the most common causes of disability in the world. The disability resulting from low back pain continues to plague the construction industry leading to absenteeism and early retirement among construction manual workers.

The aim of the review was to explore global literature concerning the effect of occupational-related low back pain on the functional activities among manual workers in construction companies.

A retrospective search of articles published from January 2000 to April 2010. The following electronic data bases, Google Scholar, Academic search premier, CINAHL, ERIC, Health source-consumer Edition, Health source: Nursing/Academic Edition, Master FILE Premier, MEDLINE, MLA Directory of Periodicals, Science direct, MLA International Bibliography, Pre-CiNAHL and PubMed were individually searched using specifically developed search strategies. Methodological quality was evaluated using the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) tool and was done by two independent reviewers.

The search yielded eleven articles of sound quality. There is evidence that a high percentage of construction workers suffer permanent disability and fail to return to work forcing them to go into early retirement due to occupational related low back pain. The cohort studies have shown that poor performance, reduction in productivity, restrictions
on usual activity and participation and incurring high medical costs all pose a challenge to construction manual workers and their employers as a result of occupational related low back.

The findings support that occupational related low back pain is a challenge among construction manual workers causing serious disability. Further well designed research in Africa into the most effective strategies to prevent and manage occupational related low back pain among construction manual workers is needed.



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