Managing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace

According to the Office of National Statistics, 469,000 workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (either new or long-standing) in 2017/18.

It is also estimated that 6.6 million working days were lost due to such disorders in 2017/18.

Given the prevalence of musculoskeletal issues in the workplace and its impact on managing sickness absence, we take a look at some of the statistics surrounding MSDs in the workplace.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace

Back in 1980, the Black Report on inequalities in health indicated that around 90% of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are compatible with some form of work.

Given the fact that the intervening decades have only exacerbated the issue, it’s essential that line managers are aware of the potential impact and able to inform employees on how to minimise further issues.

To help with this, there is great advice available from the Health and Safety Executive, which HR or line managers can access, on how to manage MSDs in the workplace:

Musculoskeletal disorders overview

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Great Britain

Health and Safety at Work Statistics

The State of Musculoskeletal Health 2018

Arthritis Research UK collect the best available data on the impact of musculoskeletal conditions in the UK.

The State of Musculoskeletal Health 2018 specifically looks at the scale of the problem, with an estimated 17.8 million people living with a musculoskeletal condition in the UK, and collects together some of the key statistics surrounding MSDs.

Key factors affecting musculoskeletal health

As you’d expect, inactive people are at increased risk of developing MSDs.

Given that WHO reported that people in the UK are some of the least active in the world, remaining active in the workplace is more important than ever.

People suffering from obesity and multimorbidity, those living with one or more serious long-term condition, are also likely to have a musculoskeletal condition.

The impact of musculoskeletal disorders

One in eight of the working age population reported having a musculoskeletal problem.

MSDs are a leading cause of sickness absence, resulting in over 30.8 million working days being lost in 2016. People with musculoskeletal conditions are also more likely to retire early.

Conditions such as back pain account for around 40% of all sickness absence in the NHS and costs around £400 million per year.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions in the workforce is set to increase.

By 2030, forecasts predict that 40% of the working age population will have a long-term condition.

Supporting employees with musculoskeletal disorders

Many people with musculoskeletal conditions want to work, but they need the right support.

Businesses can use occupational health campaigns to raise awareness and staff should be given the opportunity to report any low-level issues that they might have.

Improving the ergonomic design of workstations and exploring how your office design can help to promote workplace wellbeing will help.

Since exercise can help to prevent back and joint pain, encouraging staff to get up and about more can offset the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

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

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Categories: EmployeesHealth & WellbeingOccupational Health

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