Key messages about MSDs are:
- you can do things to prevent or minimise MSDs
- the prevention measures are cost effective
- you cannot prevent all MSDs, so early reporting of symptoms, proper treatment and suitable rehabilitation is essential
Risk factors causing MSDs can be found in virtually every workplace from commerce to agriculture, health services to construction.
Preventing and managing discomfort, pain and injury caused by MSDs makes good business sense.
Reduced absenteeism means lower costs of hiring or training replacement staff. Not having to deal with the impact of employee ill-health and loss of experienced staff means increased productivity. Employers may also benefit from reduced insurance costs where MSDs can be prevented.
Most people have back pain at some time. Usually the pain is not caused by anything serious and it settles within a matter of days or weeks.
Medical evidence from the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Faculty of Occupational Medicine focuses on three key messages for sufferers to deal with back pain:
- stay active
- try simple pain relief
- if you need it seek advice
For information to help employers, managers and employees prevent and manage the effects of back pain in the workplace, visit our back pain topic page:
Upper limb disorders (ULDs)
The term upper limb disorders (ULDs) is used as an umbrella term for a range of disorders for the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and neck. it covers those conditions, with specific medical diagnoses (for example frozen shoulder, carpal tunnel syndrome), and other conditions (often called 'repetitive strain injury' or RSI) where there is pain without specific symptoms. Symptoms may include pain, swelling and difficulty moving.
For more information on preventing and managing the effects of ULDs in the workplace, visit our Upper limb disorders topic page:
Lower limb disorders (LLDs)
Lower limb disorder (LLD) is used for a range of disorders of the hips, legs, knees, ankles and feet. It covers those conditions with specific medical diagnoses (for example osteoarthritis of the knee and hip), and other conditions where there is pain without specific symptoms. Symptoms may include pain, swelling and difficulty moving.
For more information on preventing and managing the effects of LLDs in the workplace, visit our Lower limb disorders topic page:
Display screen equipment (DSE)
DSE includes all potential issues that may result from using display screen equipment, which used to be referred to as VDUs (visual display units) and includes use of the computer equipment in both the workplace and at home if you are a home-worker. ULDs, headaches and visual problems can all be associated with working at a poorly designed workstation.
For information to help employers, managers and employees prevent and manage the effects and risks of working with DSE, visit our Display screen Equipment topic page:
Manual handling covers a wide variety of tasks including lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying. Injuries can occur almost anywhere, when people are at work or at home, and for many reasons like heavy loads or awkward postures. In addition, previous or existing injury can increase the risk.
Early reporting of symptoms, proper treatment and suitable return to work plans can help most people recover from their injuries and return to work. However some people may need to take longer periods off work and possibly even leave work entirely. The injured person may find that their lifestyle, leisure activities, ability to sleep and job prospects are affected.
For information to employers, managers and employees prevent and manage the effects and risks of manual handling in the workplace, visit our Manual handling topic page:
- Guidance on the Prevention and Management of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the Workplace
- Handling with care - a guide for the healthcare sector
- INDG 383 Manual Handling Assessment Charts - Source HSE (GB)
- The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000
- The Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978
Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.