The Relationship Between BMI and Work-Related Musculoskeletal Injury Rates Is Modified by Job-Associated Level of Injury Risk

The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and occupational musculoskeletal injury rates, and the statistical interaction between BMI and occupational exposure to musculoskeletal hazards (measured by level of musculoskeletal injury risk based on job category).

Using 17 years of data from 38,214 university and health system employees, multivariate Poisson regression modeled the interaction between BMI and musculoskeletal injury risk on injury rates.

A significant interaction between BMI and musculoskeletal injury risk was observed. Although the effect of BMI was strongest for “low” musculoskeletal injury risk occupations, absolute musculoskeletal injury rates for “mid”/”high” musculoskeletal injury risk occupations remained larger.

To address the occupational musculoskeletal injury burden, initiatives focused on optimal measures of workers’ BMI are important but should not be prioritized over (or used in lieu of) interventions targeting job-specific musculoskeletal injury hazards.

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