Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), commonly known as ergonomic injuries, accounted for 33 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work in 2011, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued November 8, 2012.

There were 387,820 MSDs in all ownerships with an incidence rate of 39 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

Workers who sustained musculoskeletal disorders required a median of 11 days to recuperate before returning to work, compared with 8 days for all types of cases.

The revision to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification system added new detailed nature and event or exposure categories that can now be included in the BLS reporting of MSDs. For this reason, MSD data for 2011 should not be compared to prior year data.

Five occupations had more than 11,000 MSDs. Of these occupations, nursing assistants had the highest count at 25,010. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the greatest median days away from work with 21 days.

For all occupations, the back was injured in 42 percent of the MSD cases and required a median of 7 days to recuperate. The most severe MSDs occurred to the shoulder, requiring a median of 21 days for the worker to return to work, but accounted for only 13 percent of the MSDs.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics