Health status and health-related quality of life of municipal waste collection workers – a cross-sectional survey
Background Waste collection workers are exposed to several occupational stressors which may affect their quality of life. Our aim was to assess the health status and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of municipal waste collection workers of a big German city.
Methods Cross-sectional study with a non-random sample of 65 (62 male, 3 female) workers of the Hamburg sanitation department, volunteering to participate in the study. We assessed the prevalence of reported health complaints and health problems. HRQoL was assessed with the self-administered EQ-5D-5L questionnaire and its visual analogue scale (VAS).
Results The most common health problems were musculoskeletal complaints (back pain reported by 67.2 %, other musculoskeletal complaints 15.4 %). Asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was reported by 15.4 % of the workers. All participants reporting having a diagnosis of asthma or COPD had been or were active smokers. Our findings indicate an impaired HRQoL among the investigated occupational group. Regarding EQ-5D 68.3 % reported at least “slight” problems in one or more dimensions, and almost one third (31.7 %) reported “no problems” in any dimension. Problems were most frequently reported in the dimension “pain/discomfort” (64.1 % of the workers). The mean VAS value was 80.9 (13.2). The presence of back pain was associated with limitations in HRQoL (RR 3.1; 95 %-CI 1.5-6.1). The EQ5D VAS score was statistically significantly lower among waste collectors with back pain (77.9 SD 14.1) compared to those with no back complaints (88.0 SD 7.6, p < 0.01).
Conclusions Back complaints are common among municipal waste collectors and are associated with considerable impairments in their HRQoL. Interventions to enhance ergonomic work are needed in order to reduce back complaints and enhance HRQoL in this occupational group.