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Workplace injuries in Prosthetists and Orthotists in Australia

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posted on 2023-01-19, 10:13 authored by sarah Anderson
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

Workplace injuries are a significant issue in the health care sector, where Allied Health professionals are an important and diverse sub‐set. Knowledge about Allied Health professionals’ workplace injuries varies by individual occupational group, and some groups, including Prosthetists/Orthotists have not previously been researched. This thesis aims to address this knowledge gap through five studies, with the overarching aim of identifying workplace hazards and injuries in the Australian Prosthetics/Orthotics workforce. Analysis of Australian Workers’ compensation and Labour force data for Allied Health Professionals identifying number, type and mechanism of injuries, found Prosthetists/Orthotists have the highest injury prevalence, with work‐related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) the most common injury type. A systematic review examining WMSD in the individual allied health professions found most research focused on Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. A wide range of WMSD prevalence was found across all AHP, but no research addressing the Prosthetics/Orthotics profession was identified. A qualitative exploration of the experience of work for Prosthetists/Orthotists in Australia identified a range of workplace factors reported to be hazardous, including concerns related to work design and workshop environments. A subsequent retrospective cohort study of Australian Prosthetists/Orthotists of prevalence and risk factors for WMSD found a prevalence of 80 percent of WMSD, and factors predicting these injuries including work hours and physical and psychosocial hazards. A single centre pilot study then explored physical environmental Prosthetist/Orthotist workshop exposures. While chemical exposures were negligible, noise levels were excessive and required workplace redesign and personal protective equipment to prevent related injuries and illnesses. The findings of this research demonstrate that Prosthetists/Orthotists in Australia work in environments that are likely to be hazardous. They have a high prevalence of WMSD and are exposed to a variety of unique workplace physical, psychosocial and environmental hazards which require specifically targeted prevention strategies. Further research is required to understand the causation of injuries and explore the development and implementation of appropriate controls.


Center or Department

School of Psychology and Public Health. Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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