Ergonomics in the operating room

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Surgical staff is considered to have several ergonomic risk factors, but their physical workload and musculoskeletal health have seldom been evaluated. Clinical examinations of neck and upper extremities were performed in 99 theatre nurses and 93 assisting nurses, all females. Their physical workload was assessed by questionnaire, and by technical measurements of postures, movements and muscular load in subgroups of both categories. The prevalences of diagnoses in neck/shoulders were not remarkably high in the nurses, compared to other occupational groups. In elbows/hands though, the prevalence was rather high among assistant nurses, 13 vs. 5% in theatre nurses; POR 3.0 (CI 95% 1.0-8.9). Theatre nurses experienced prolonged static postures in the questionnaire, whilst assistant nurses reported high physical load. Accordingly, the technical measurements showed more strenuous working postures in the theatre nurses, but lower wrist angular velocities. The time proportion of muscular rest in m. trapezius was rather high in both groups. Although both groups had some stressful loads they had relatively low prevalence of diagnoses in neck/shoulders. The high proportion of muscular rest may be protective. The elevated risk of elbows/hands diagnoses among assistant nurses may be explained by strenuous work tasks of short duration.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Health and Occupational Health


  • Physical load, technical measurements, mechanical and physical indices, musculoskeletal disorders
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5644-5646
JournalWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch