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WP 3: Assessments and adjustments in occupations with high physical workload and identifying factors that promote healthy work longevity

It is well-known that high occupational physical strain increases the risk of disability benefits due to musculoskeletal disorders (Järvholm et al. 2014). There may also be an increased risk of encountering cardiovascular disease and premature death, referred to as the physical activity paradox since physical activity at leisure time is beneficial, but the evidence of harm from physical activity at work is still insufficient (Coenen et al. 2020). Increased knowledge on these issues is crucial for the formulation of recommendations regarding physical strain at work, which should be particularly important to apply in employees with high age, who have a lower total physical capacity. In a previous study we found that “adjustment” from high to lower physically strenuous jobs delayed the age of retirement (Söderberg 2021). In addition, prior studies have shown huge variation of the individual physical strain within the same occupation, indicating the need for individual assessments to find out a suitable workload that limits the risk of harm (Stevens et al. 2021). Such evaluations preferably include both musculoskeletal and cardiovascular workload. The latter will strongly depend on the fitness of the worker (Stevens et al. 2021). In this work package, we explore what assessments and adjustments employees with physically demanding jobs need to enable a sustainable working life. More specifically, we ask; what needs and adaptation opportunities are there for older employees with physically demanding work? Which are the success factors for a sustainable working life until retirement in physically demanding works? How does a high physical workload influence age at retirement and risk of diseases and mortality?

Participating researchers

Viktoria Wahlström
Research fellow
Lisbeth Slunga Järvholm
Professor, senior consultant (attending) physician
Bengt Järvholm
Latest update: 2023-03-08