OBJECTIVES: This study was conducted to estimate the incidence rate, and to identify the risk factors for the occupational low back pain among shipyard workers. METHODS: The study subjects consisted of 9,784 workers who were employed in a ship-building industry(excluded workers who had a history of low pack pain before 1995 or did not take periodic health examination in 1995). The cases were 220 people who experienced back pain from January 1, 1996 to December 31, 1998. To assess risk factors for occupational low back pain, Cox propotional hazard model was used. RESULTS: During the recent three years from 1996 to 1998, the incidence rate per 1,000 persons was 7. 8 in 1996, 8. 8 in 1997, and 3. 1 in 1998. The main causes of work-related low back pain were sprain, strain and disc herniation. Lifting was the most common cause of back pain(35. 3%), and carrying(10.2%) and pulling(8.0%) were followed. In Cox proportional harzard model, independent risk factors for back pain were body mass index(R.R.; 1.54, 959o C.I.: 1.06-2.25), shift work(R.R.; 1.65, 95% C.I.: 1.19-2.28), and lifting heavy material(R.R. ; 3.95, 95% C.I: 2.29-6.82). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that the risk factors of back pain in shipyard workers were body mass index, shift work and lifting.