To assess whether there are differences in musculoskeletal pain among different types of occupations offshore and their relationship to ergonomic demands.
We conducted a web-based cross-sectional survey among workers from offshore wind energy companies operating within the German exclusive economic zone. We selected workers with regular offshore commitments and at least 28 days spent offshore in the past year (n = 268). Musculoskeletal pain was assessed using the Subjective Health Complaints inventory (SHC), which considers the past month.
Of the 268 male participants eligible for analysis, 54% reported back pain 50.4% neck pain, 40.3% lower back pain, 35.5% shoulder, 23.3% arm and 22.1% leg pain, all of them during the past month. Compared to other offshore occupations, technicians reported more frequently arm (OR 3.13; 95% CI 1.58-6.19), back (OR 1.97; 95% CI 1.15-3.39), shoulder (OR 1.94; 95% CI 1.11-3.40) and neck pain (OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.11-3.22). After adjusting for age and nationality, lifting and carrying heavy loads were associated with all types of pain except leg pain. Overhead work, work in awkward postures, and the use of personal protection equipment and heavy tools was associated with shoulder, back and arm pain.
Our findings suggest that occupational health counselling, health promotion and preventive interventions of offshore wind energy workers needs to consider the specific tasks of the employee and be particularly tailored to the ergonomic needs of technicians.