TAKING STEPS to reduce work-related back pain can help companies reduce costs and increase productivity. IOSH offers advice on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.

neck pain. back pain. tendinitis. Arthrosis. Most of your employees had them. Or will.

But do you know as much as you think about these common conditions – including how much they affect your business?

The above, along with a variety of other ailments, are known as musculoskeletal disorders or musculoskeletal disorders. They affect mechanisms in the body such as joints, muscles and tendons.

They can be caused or exacerbated by work or the effects of the work environment, such as: B. manual handling of heavy loads, awkward postures, monotonous/repetitive activities and high work demands.

The emphasis is on “can” – because these diseases are preventable.

Nevertheless, MSDs remain one of the leading causes of disability, sick leave and early retirement, and the most common work-related health problem in Europe.

By preventing and managing MSDs in the workplace, organizations can reduce costs, improve productivity, increase employee engagement, reduce attrition, improve morale, reduce absenteeism rates and more.

So here are seven simple steps from IOSH, supporting the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA)’s “Lighten the Load” campaign, to help you protect your workforce.

  • Risk Assessment – this health and safety favorite is truly the best way to predict the various factors that can lead to MSDs. It should take into account the task, person, load, work environment and anything else that is relevant.
  • Manage the risks – MSDs can be prevented in the same way as other risks. Use the results of your risk assessment to put controls in place. This does not have to be expensive or a major change and could involve modifying equipment or making changes to work practices.
  • Take a break – Promote a healthy work-life balance and ensure rest breaks are provided. These promote the recovery of the body and prevent fatigue.
  • Create good ergonomics – balance the demands of the work and the capacity of the worker. This can be done by adapting the task to the person through work design or developing the employee’s capacity through training and workplace adaptations.
  • Choose the best way to get a job done – the way a worker performs a task can affect MSDs. For example, when lifting a load, the center of gravity should be close to the body. So find better ways to perform a task and educate people on how to do it. Even small improvements reduce the risk of MSDs.
  • Try to prevent before you have to cure – preventing accidents and injuries in the workplace, which can cause both musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, should be at the heart of every organization.
  • Report it – It is important that an organization has processes in place for workers to report MSD issues. The sooner you do this, the easier it is for your business to prevent the problem from developing into something more serious.

Of course, MSDs can be related to what workers do in their personal lives, contributing to problems at work. This is where awareness training comes into play. Having healthy employees who are aware of all the dangers and risks of MSDs and are healthier outside of work will always be an asset to the organization.

With the prevalence of MSDs, it makes real business sense to make prevention and early intervention a part of your daily health and safety management.

Read more from IOSH on preventing and treating MSDs and learn more about EU-OSHA’s Lighten the Load campaign.