Research Article  |   December 2016
Role of Occupational Therapy in Preventing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders With Recycling Workers: A Pilot Study
Author Affiliations
  • Thomas Fisher, PhD, OTR, CCM, FAOTA, is Professor and Chairman, Department of Occupational Therapy, Indiana University, Indianapolis; fishert@iupui.edu
Article Information
Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / Musculoskeletal Impairments / Special Issue: Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 2016
Role of Occupational Therapy in Preventing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders With Recycling Workers: A Pilot Study
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, December 2016, Vol. 71, 7101190030p1-7101190030p6. doi:10.5014/ajot.2017.022871
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, December 2016, Vol. 71, 7101190030p1-7101190030p6. doi:10.5014/ajot.2017.022871
Abstract

Little is known about injury prevention in recycling workers; therefore, in this study, I aimed to identify physical and psychosocial risk factors for employees involved in single-stream recycling and to explore strategies for prevention and wellness. Fifteen participants who were either recycling workers or supervisors located throughout seven locations on an urban university campus participated. A mixed-methods research design was used to obtain data through a variety of standardized work environment and health questionnaires and semistructured interviews. Approximately 80% of participants expressed satisfaction with their jobs; 50% reported having a musculoskeletal injury; and 33% reported a lack of support from coworkers or supervisors, which created stress and anxiety. Additional risk factors included poor body mechanics, equipment issues, poor social interactions, and lack of supervisor knowledge for prevention. Occupational therapy practitioners are well situated to support preventive interventions that address the combined physical and psychosocial needs of recycling workers.