Associations between physical or psychosocial risk factors and work-related musculoskeletal disorders in construction workers based on literature in the last 20 years: A systematic review

Shahnawaz Anwer, Heng Li, Maxwell Fordjour Antwi-Afari, Arnold Yu Lok Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The current systematic review aimed to summarize prevalence rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) and quantify the associations between physical or psychosocial risk factors and WRMSDs in construction workers. Literature searches were conducted in Web of Science, PubMed, Medline, CINAHL, and EMBASE from January 1, 2000 to September 30, 2020. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed by a validated risk of bias assessment tool used in population-based prevalence studies. Nineteen cross-sectional studies and one cohort study involving 194,863 participants were included. Eleven, five, and four included studies were classified as having high, moderate, and low quality, respectively. The 12-month prevalence rates of WRMSDs in construction workers were high (ranging from 25% to 96%). There was strong evidence to support the relationships between awkward postures (e.g., twisting, bending, or cramping positions) [odd ratio (OR) = 2.4], manual material handling (MMH) (OR = 2.2), prolonged works (OR = 4.0), high job demands (OR =1.6) or mental stress (OR =1.8) and WRMSDs in construction workers. Additionally, there was moderate evidence for the associations between overhead works (OR = 3.1), use of vibration (OR = 3.2), or low job satisfaction (OR = 1.5) and WRMSDs in construction workers. Furthermore, there was very limited evidence for the associations between repetitive works, low job control, or high job insecurity and WRMSDs in construction workers. Although many physical and psychosocial risk factors were associated with WRMSDs in construction workers, the causal relationships between these factors and the prevalence of WRMSDs remain unclear. Future prospective studies should determine whether these factors can predict future WRMSDs and whether the modification of these factors can reduce the incidence and/or prevalence of WRMSDs in construction workers. Review registration PROSPERO 2019: CRD42019135027.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103113
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Ergonomics
  • Occupational health
  • Physical risk factors
  • Prevalence
  • Psychosocial risk factors
  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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