Health Wise – Musculoskeletal issues in the workplace

Any business interested in health and wellbeing in the workplace, will be aware of the fact that musculoskeletal-related conditions, such as lower back or joint pain, are one of the biggest causes of sickness absence in the UK.

It’s worth noting that Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) aren’t specific to jobs that involve physical labour.

MSDs & employee absence

One of the leading causes of absence is due to the back and neck pain caused by keyboard work.

Research by Fit to Work Europe suggests that, in relation to musculoskeletal conditions, 39% of short-term absence and 50% of long-term absence can be avoided with early intervention.

MSD: Facts & Stats

According to the Business in the Community Musculoskeletal Health in the Workplace Toolkit;

  • 1 in 8 of the working age population reported having an MSD.
  • By 2030, the prevalence of MSD in the workforce is likely to increase to 7 million people.
  • An estimated 9.5 million working days were lost due to work-related MSD.
  • This represents 40% of all days lost due to work-related ill-health in 2014/15.

The Health and Safety Executive found that 8.9 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17

The three most common MSDs are:

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A numbing, tingling, and weakness in the hand and grip, generally caused by repetitive wrist motions and pressure on the median nerve in the wrist.

You can relieve Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by pausing the activities that cause pain, using an ice pack and taking frequent breaks.

Tendonitis

Also known as tennis elbow or runner’s knee, tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon; the strong, flexible collagens that connect muscles to bones. Tendonitis results from overuse of the tendon.

You can relieve it with regular rest periods and by applying heat or ice to the affected area.

Bursitis

Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursa, which is the fluid-filled sac located between tissues, such as bones, muscles, tendons, and skin.

Bursitis affects the elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, and Achilles tendon.

You can relieve it by using ice on the affected area, avoiding activities that aggravate the injury and stretching before starting strenuous work.

Supporting staff with MSDs

Early intervention is key to musculoskeletal disorders.

Businesses can use occupational health campaigns to raise awareness through internal communications.

Staff should be given the opportunity to report low-level issues.

Poor ergonomic design in terms of workstations and office layout are major contributing factors.

An ergonomic assessment of your business can highlight any issues and provide advice on how changes in furniture and other practices can help to promote better posture.

Any exercise that strengthens the core muscles is a good start for preventing back and joint pain.

There are also small steps individuals can take to encourage fitness in the office, including desk-based exercises and encouraging staff to get up and about more.

If you’d like to find out how our occupational health services could help to reduce sickness absence and support staff suffering from MSDs, contact the team at Fusion.

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Categories: Absence ManagementEmployeesHealth & WellbeingHealth WiseOccupational Health

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