Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a major cause of work-related disability and lost-time illnesses for many occupational groups. This study determined the prevalence of musculoskeletal symptoms among young construction workers. A symptom and job factors survey was self-administered to 996 construction apprentices. Prevalence was determined by the percent of positive responses to musculoskeletal symptom questions. Odds ratios and 95 percent confidence intervals were the measures of association between prevalent musculoskeletal symptoms and demographic, leisure, and job factors and were determined by logistic regression. The low back was the site most commonly reported for job-related musculoskeletal symptoms (54.4%), which was also the most common reason for seeking care from a physician (16.8%) and missing work (7.3%). Number of years worked in the construction trade was significantly associated with knee (p-trend = 0.0009) and wrist/hand (p-trend < 0.04) MSD symptoms and was suggestive of an association with low back pain (p-trend = 0.05). "Working in the same position for long periods" was the job factor identified as most problematic, with 49.7 percent of all construction apprentices rating it as a moderate/major problem contributing to musculoskeletal symptoms. Musculoskeletal symptoms are a significant problem among young construction workers at the beginning of their careers. Prevention strategies are needed early in the apprentice training program to reduce the potential disability associated with work-related musculoskeletal symptom disorders.
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