Construction apprentices are at risk for developing shoulder pain with increasing exposure to repetitive overhead work. Risk may decrease if shoulder biomechanics are optimised and if risk factors that contribute to shoulder pain onset are identified. This prospective cohort study examined demographic and work-related factors and shoulder pain onset over 2 years in a cohort of 240 construction apprentices. Approximately 50% of the sample (n = 117) performed a home exercise programme intended to have a protective effect, while the other 50% served as controls. The proportion of new-onset shoulder pain in the control group was higher than in the exercise group. Regression analysis identified four factors related to new-onset shoulder pain: previous neck pain; working in hot, cold or humid conditions; subject height; and bending and twisting the back. This information may assist employers and workers in preventing shoulder pain. By knowing factors predictive of shoulder pain development in construction workers, employers can take measures to protect workers and may secondarily decrease medical expenses and maintain productivity. Previous neck pain, working in extreme environmental conditions and being shorter all increased a worker's risk of developing shoulder pain. Exercises to optimise shoulder biomechanics have a small effect on preventing shoulder pain development.
- Occupational exposure