Roofers with MSDs, pain leave trade early: study

July 1, 2010

Health problems push roofers into early retirement, suggests a new paper from the Silver Spring, MD-based Center for Construction Research and Training, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO.

A longitudinal study of 979 roofers 49 to 59 years old found 10 percent leave the profession within one year; of those, 60 percent exit because of chronic pain, work-related musculoskeletal disorders and poor health, according to a CCRT press release.

Due to their early retirement, workers were 19 times more likely to suffer moderate economic impact and 6.5 times more likely to experience severe economic impact one year later.

Workers who left the trade tended to be older, experienced lower physical function and more pain, and were more likely to have missed work and have work limitations in the two years before the first interview, the release said.

Roofers have the third-highest rate of jobsite fatalities in the construction industry. Researchers said the findings demonstrate the need to change work practices to prevent disability.

The study appeared in the June issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.