The epidemiology of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in beauty therapists working within the hotel spa industry in the eThekwini municipality
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Background The growing popularity and competitive nature of the beauty industry has resulted in beauty therapists performing an extensive range of treatments to meet the demand, often at the jeopardy of their own well-being. Treatments include massage, waxing, pedicures and facials. These techniques involve vigorous and repetitive movements that may lead to overuse and strain on the musculoskeletal system, resulting in injury. Work-related activities together with factors such as socio-demographic, psychosocial, environmental and anthropometric can influence the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs). There has been little investigation into the WRMDs of beauty therapists both locally and internationally. Aim The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, selected risk factors and impact of self-reported work related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMDs) in beauty therapists working within the hotel spa industry in the eThekwini municipality. Method A cross sectional epidemiological design was used to survey 254 beauty therapists working in the hotel spa industry in the eThekwini municipality of Durban. A pre-validated questionnaire was hand delivered to beauty therapists working at all hotel spas that agreed to participate. Informed consent was obtained. The survey contained questions related to musculoskeletal pain, socio-demographic, psycho-social, lifestyle and occupational factors. Results A response rate of 70% was obtained (n=178). The majority of the respondents were female (94.3%; n=165), the mean age of the respondents was 27.74 (SD±4.83) years. The respondents had been working as beauty therapists for an average of 5.91 (SD±4.19; n=176) years and performed on average 27.89 (SD±13.33; n=170) treatments per week, working 47.38 (SD±13.36; n=175) hours per week. Those working overtime worked on average 5.43 (SD±2.94; n=59) hours of overtime per week. There was a high rate of reported WRMDs with the lifetime, current and 12 month period prevalence being 86% (n=153), 85% (n=151) and 83% (n=148), respectively. The area most affected were the low back followed by the neck, the hand and wrist. Ninety percent of the respondents indicated that their pain was mild to moderate in nature, with half expressing an inability to cope with the pain, and 78% reporting that it interfered with their ability to work. Mental exhaustion (p=0.032), suffering from a concomitant co-morbidity (p=0.031), years worked as a beauty therapist (p˂0.001) and treating clients after hours (p=0.007) were significantly associated with the presence of musculoskeletal pain. Performing manual massage (p=0.043) and reporting feelings of exhaustion whilst performing specialised massage techniques (p=0.014) and applying makeup/eyelashes (p=0.022) were associated with the presence of WRMDs. Those who reported having co-worker (p=0.006) and managerial support (p˂0.001) were less likely to experience musculoskeletal pain. In contrast, feeling frustrated by work (p=0.007), being under pressure (p=0.005) and over worked (p=0.009) increased the chances of experiencing WRMDs. Working with the back in an awkward position (p˂0.001), standing for prolonged periods (p˂0.001), lifting heavy loads (p=0.019) and working in a hot and humid environment (p<0.001) increased the risk of WRMDs. Conclusion WRMDs have a significant impact on beauty therapists’ ability to work. Effective strategies to prevent and manage WRMDs in hotel spa beauty therapists is required, along with governmental regulation.