chapter
History of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
Pages 5

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries that develop in the soft tissue structures of the body such as nerves, muscles, tendons and joints due to repeated or prolonged ergonomic exposures. Such exposures may include awkward or static postures, forceful exertions, vibration, and contact stresses which may be exacerbated or modified by psychosocial and work organizational issues. MSDs have received considerable attention in recent years due to the spiraling incidence of MSDs in the 1990s and their subsequent impact on industry profits and individuals’ lives. However, MSDs are not a new entity. MSDs were first described in the 1700s and documented throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as many countries endured a so-called epidemic of MSDs. In each country, these epidemics served as the catalyst to investigate the causative factors of MSDs and the extent to which technological or societal changes may have impacted the occurrences. Interestingly, the same factors proposed to influence the development of MSDs in the eighteenth century are the same risk factors that are recognized today.