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Ohlander, Johan; Keskin, Mekail-Cem; Weiler, Stephan W.; Stork, Joachim and Radon, Katja ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5271-3972 (2019): Snap-fit assembly and upper limb functional limitations in automotive production workers: a nested case-control study. In: International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, Vol. 92, No. 6: pp. 813-819

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ObjectivesThe use of snap-fits in car-part assembling has developed into an industrial standard. Cross-sectional evidence indicates, however, that this assembling process might adversely affect workers' upper limb function. The objective of this study was to analyze incident cases of upper limb functional limitations (ULFL) in relation to exposure to snap-fit assembly.MethodsWe performed a nested case-control study within a population of 5139 blue-collar automotive production workers. Cases with ULFL detected during follow-up were matched with controls based on employment duration and investigated on their exposure to snap-fit assembly. By conditional logistic regression, we modeled the risk for ULFL according to person-years of exposure to snap-fit assembly, adjusted for gender and baseline BMI.ResultsOverall, 64 ULFL cases were detected during a follow-up of 20610.8 person-years (3.1 cases per 1000 person-years). Cases, matched with an average of 4 controls, had significantly longer exposure duration to snap-fit assembly compared with controls (M=1.15 person-years, SD=1.68 person-years vs. M=0.41 person-years, SD=1.25 person-years). One person-year of exposure to snap-fit assembly was associated with an approximate 20% risk increase of developing ULFLs (OR 1.23, 95% CI 1.08-1.39).ConclusionsWe confirm an association between accumulated exposure to snap-fits in car-part assembling and upper limb musculoskeletal disorders. Company physicians should thus be vigilant to symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders of the upper limbs in snap-fit assembly and support the development of threshold values for snap-fit insertion forces.

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