CDC: Two-fifths of Employed U.S. Adults Experience Frequent Exertion, Standing at Work

Published January 17, 2018
Nearly 40 percent of all currently employed American adults have jobs that require both frequent exertion and frequent standing, according to a new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report is based on responses to an occupational health supplement to the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, the largest in-person health survey in the United States.

The NHIS generated more than 17,400 responses to questions about the frequency with which working adults engage in repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, or bending, and in standing or walking while at work. After weighting the responses to be nationally representative, CDC determined that an estimated 52.7 million American adults, or 39.5 percent of the working population, have jobs that require frequent exertion and standing.

Among workers whose highest level of education is a high school diploma or equivalent, nearly 57 percent experience both frequent exertion and frequent standing on the job.

The report also presents weighted data on the prevalence of frequent exertion and frequent standing within the industry and occupational groups identified by the North American Industry Classification System. The industries with the highest rates of both frequent exertion and frequent standing are agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting; construction; and accommodation and food services.

Repetitive motions are risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders. Research published in the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics in 2014 indicated that work-related MSDs cost the U.S. approximately $2.6 billion every year.

More information about the report appears on the NIOSH Science Blog.