• Vol. 44 No. 7
  • 15 July 2015

A Review of Back Injury Cases Notified to the Ministry of Manpower from 2011 to 2012

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ABSTRACT

Introduction: In Singapore, the notification of workplace accidents and occupational diseases is a legal requirement under the Workplace Safety and Health (Incident Reporting) Regulations. This review is to identify back injury cases with physical work stresses and propose recommendations for preventive measures.

Materials and Methods: Cases involving back injuries notified to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2012 were reviewed. Using predefined criteria, cases with physical work stresses were identified and the associated variables analysed.

Results: A total of 1124 notifications involving back injuries were received from 2011 to 2012; 579 cases (52%) were identified to have physical work stresses, of which 447 cases (77%) were males and 375 (64%) of them were between the ages of 21 to 40 years. The commonest physical work stresses were carrying (35%), awkward postures (22%) and lifting (20%). Majority of the cases came from the following sectors: construction (14%), accommodation and food services (12%), transport and storage (12%), manufacturing (10%) and wholesale and retail trade (10%).

Conclusion: We identified the main physical work stresses in the back injury cases as carrying, awkward postures and lifting. The common industries involved were construction, accommodation and food services, and transport and storage sectors. This is useful for programmes aimed at reducing physical work stresses which can lead to improved work and health outcomes for our workers.


Work-related low back disorders consist of both low back pain (LBP) and low back injuries. They are a significant and increasing problem all over the world. Studies estimate that between 60% and 90% of people will suffer from low back disorders at some point in their life. Among the working population, many of the factors causing LBP can be associated with the workplace. Worldwide, about 37% of LBP can be attributed to occupation. In Singapore, over 80% of the adult population will suffer from back pain at some time or other in their lives. Apart from resulting morbidity, and in some cases, permanent disability, LBP also incurs high societal costs. Estimates of the total societal cost of LBP are in the range of 20 to 50 billion dollars in the United States and proportionately comparable amounts in Sweden and Canada.

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