Musculoskeletal Disorders – Managing Workplace Risks
What are musculoskeletal disorders? One of the most prevalent and overlooked health and safety hazards at work are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) – or in layman’s terms injuries and damage caused to muscles, joints and tendons caused or aggravated by work…
Blog1st Sep 2023
What are musculoskeletal disorders?
One of the most prevalent and overlooked health and safety hazards at work are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) – or in layman’s terms injuries and damage caused to muscles, joints and tendons caused or aggravated by work or the effects of the immediate work environment. You can download our free fact sheet here.
What causes musculoskeletal disorders?
When we talk about MSD’s its not unusual to picture lifting, carrying, moving, and handling heavy items or loads – and while these do cause injuries, MSD’s also affect a raft of work sectors and occupations and have the potential be highly detrimental to an individual’s quality of life and ability to work. They are one of the most common causes of disability, sickness absence and early retirement, all of which come at a cost to the individual, employers, and the economy as a whole.
The HSE statistics for 2021/22 reported: –
- 477,000 cases of MSD’s of which: –
- 175,000 were upper limb or neck related
- 202,000 were back related
- 99,000 were lower limbs related
- 3 million working days were lost as a result of MSD’s accounting for: –
- 27% of all work related ill health
- 24% of all working days lost due to ill health
- Top level sectors where MSD’s are prevalent were: –
- Agriculture, forestry and fishing
- Human health and social work
Managing the Risk
Where there is a possibility of injury arising from manual handling activities, a risk assessment should be completed. The risk assessment provides a structured way of analysing the risks and identifying practical solutions. Risk assessments should consider: –
TASK: what is the manual handling task that is being assessed
INDIVIDUAL: who will carry out the manual handling task
LOAD: what is being handled
ENVIRONMENT: where is the manual handling task being carried out
When assessing manual handling tasks every effort should be made to avoid the manual handling task where possible. Where the manual handling task cannot be avoided then you should consider whether manual handling aids could be used, e.g. trolleys, sack barrows etc. It is important to remember that although handling aids may eliminate/reduce the manual handling risk, they may introduce other risks that should be considered in the overall assessment.
Looking to arrange a risk assessment for your business? Get in touch with our team of Health & Safety experts who will be happy to assist you.