September 20, 2019
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The term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is used to cover injury, damage or other disorders affecting the joints or other tissues in the limbs and back

Work related musculoskeletal disorders are a significant problem. Figures from the HSE show that 469,000 workers were suffering from work-related MSDs (new or longstanding) in 2017/18 leading to a total of 6.6 million working days lost, an average of 14 days lost for each case.

Musculoskeletal disorders are often the result of repeated exposure to harmful conditions over a long period of time, for example excessive loads, poor manual handling techniques, awkward posture and repetitive movements, other factors such as sudden injury, personal medical factors and lifestyle can also play a part.

Where practical organisations should avoid MSD risks to their employees and where risks cannot be avoided they should assess those risks and take action to minimise them. Part of which will involve providing employees with suitable information, instruction and training.

Exactly what training is required will depend on individual circumstances and it can be difficult to decide what is appropriate for your workforce. The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) recently published a guidance document on possible “Conversation starters for workplace discussions about musculoskeletal disorders”.

The guidance provides twelve scenarios which can be used in a discussion-style workshop or as an opener to a training session.

As well as covering common work activities this also looks at an employee raising a diagnosis of arthritis with their employer and a selection of communication tips to help managers and employees manage when a worker is diagnosed with a musculoskeletal disorder.

The guide can be downloaded from the EU-OSHA website at

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk Management contact or get in touch using [email protected]  if you have any questions about work related musculoskeletal disorders.