211588 Influence of work environment on work-related musculoskeletal disorders among flight attendants

Monday, November 9, 2009: 12:45 PM

Hyeonkyeong Lee, PhD, RN , College of Nursing, Nursing Policy Research Institute, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
Dinkar Mokadam, CIH , Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Washington, DC
Flight attendants belong to a female-dominated occupation at high risk for occupational injuries and illnesses with similar incidence rates to those for all workers in the air transportation industry. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are the most common health problem that caused flight attendants to lose workdays. Physically strenuous job tasks, high work-related stress, and adverse physical environmental factors are common health-related issues faced by flight attendants that may place them at risk for WMSDs. Few studies about these potentially preventable problems have been conducted. This presentation will summarize a flight attendant research project that examined various risk factors for WMSDs among U.S. female flight attendants on long-haul international flights. Both focus group and cross-sectional surveys were conducted with female fight attendants employed by one U.S. international airline. The results of the study revealed that a large percentage of the flight attendants had WMSDs, especially in the lower-back region. Flight attendant job-specific tasks were found to be the strongest risk factors for WMSDs. Work organizational factors such as low social support from co-workers/pursers and job insecurity increased the risk of WMSDs. Uncomfortable physical environment in the cabin and uncontrollable factors in the flight attendants' work environments (such as turbulence and terrorism) were also of much concern among this study population. The findings suggest the need for effective WMSD preventive strategies which address the multifactorial risk factors, and for further studies of the influence of cabin and extraneous environmental factors on WMSDs.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to: 1. Identify significant physical and psychosocial risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders among U.S. female flight attendants; 2. Describe potential areas for development of programs for preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders and for conducting further research on this health issue.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a former occupational health nurse and medical attendant for Korean Air, I have seen firsthand various potential risk factors for work-related injuries/illnesses among flight attendants and has special interest in work-related musculoskeletal disorders. During my doctoral dissertation program, I have focused on this topic in flight attendants and developed self-reported measures to assess flight attendants’ job tasks. I am currently conducting research project to identify ergonomic risk factors among immigrant female workers in Korea and teaching undergraduate and graduate nursing students
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.