Prevention of carpal tunnel syndrome in the Columbian floristry industry

Project No. IFA 4171


completed 12/2011


Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) was added in 2009 to the Schedule of Occupational Diseases in Germany. In Columbia, CTS has already been recognized for many years as an occupational disease by the ARP SURA accident insurance institution, and some experience has been gained in assessing the associated risk. In conjunction with Javeriana University in Bogotá, ARP SURA launched a prevention project for the avoidance of CTS in the Columbian floristry industry, one of the sectors in the country exhibiting the highest CTS rate in the country. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the German Social Accident Insurance (IFA) has developed a special CUELA system for measuring and assessing CTS risk factors, and will employ it for objective measurement of exposure at workplaces. Both ARP SURA and the IFA are working on a method for assessing the CTS risk based upon the exposure data which have been recorded objectively.
The aim of the project was therefore to develop a method for assessing the CTS risk with the use of the objective CUELA measurement data recorded in the Columbian floristry industry.


Against this background, a joint project was launched in which CUELA measurement technology was used to record exposure data in various areas of the Columbian floristry industry and to interpret them for the purpose of identifying suitable prevention measures. The data were also to be input into a model for CTS risk assessment at Javeriana University in Bogotá.
For this purpose, the stress profiles of five test subjects in each of eight Columbian floriculture businesses were first recorded by means of CUELA. The employees were also questioned and examined by Javeriana University in Bogotá. The CUELA measurement data were processed to enable parameters to be determined for the repetitiveness and the characteristic over time of joint angle positions for the tasks studied. These were in turn to be used as input data in the risk assessment model developed by Javeriana University in Bogotá.


The point prevalences (prevalences at a fixed point in time) of carpal tunnel syndrome and epicondylitis among the employees examined in the Columbian floristry industry were 32.9% and 15.2% respectively. The CUELA measurements yielded task-specific exposure data for the risk factors of joint angles, joint angle velocities, repetition and force, which were used as input data in the CTS risk assessment model of Javeriana University in Bogotá. From these data, a structure and assessment classification for CTS risk factors was derived which is now being used in the creation of an IFA database for task-specific CTS exposure.
Based upon the exposure data, technical, organizational and personal preventive measures for improvement of the stress situations were developed and implemented in the field in conjunction with the Columbian companies.

Last Update:

26 Jun 2012


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • ARP SURA Unfallversicherung Bogota, Kolumbien
  • Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Bogota, Kolumbien

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards


Ergonomie, Muskel-Skelett-Erkrankungen (außer Krebserkrankungen), Risikoabschätzung

Description, key words:

Columbian floristry industry, carpal tunnel syndrome, CTS, exposure measurement, CUELA, risk assessment