What's the most important factor in determining which employees file back-injury claims? It isn't work that involves heavy lifting. Nor is it a person's strength or flexibility. Rather, it is job satisfaction. That is the upshot of a new study by Dr. Stanley J. Bigos, associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle. Yet, employment screening tests aimed at predicting a person's risk of back injury focus solely on physical factors, not on state of mind. That's why such tests have been so unsuccessful, says Bigos.
After questioning 1,569 Boeing Co. employees, Bigos found that workers who don't enjoy their jobs are 2.5 times more likely to file back-injury claims as those who like their work. And workers who reported high emotional stress were more than twice as prone to file a claim. Back injury is the most common--and most expensive--muscle or bone problem in the U. S. Its treatment costs an estimated $30 billion annually.