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Musculoskeletal Health and the 5 Year Prevention Strategic Framework

The term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) covers any injury, damage or disorder of the joints or other tissues in the upper/lower limbs or the back. They are not always caused by work but they are often aggravated by the work we do.

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.

There are a variety of precautionary measures an employer can take to reduce the risk of MSDs. The appropriate control measures can depend upon the sort of work your employees do and what is 'reasonably practicable'.

The first step is to assess all of the MSD risks that the tasks generate. Next, try to eliminate as many of them as possible by redesigning the tasks, providing mechanical aids, introducing breaks or job rotation. When considering the risks, potential precautionary measures and solutions, ensure you consult your workforce as they often have first hand knowledge of the risks associated with specific tasks. Once the precautionary measures have been introduced, you should monitor their effectiveness and ensure these measures have not introduced new risks.

In June 2019 Public Health England, jointly with NHS England, Versus Arthritis and partners, published the Musculoskeletal health: 5 year prevention strategic framework, setting out a clear statement of commitments to promote MSK health and prevent MSK conditions. The framework aims to support prevention and MSK health promotion in every local area across England. This in turn will continue to reduce inequalities, raise the focus on MSK health as key to population health and wellbeing, and ensure that our healthcare resources are used most effectively. The framework is underpinned by key objectives, deliverables, outcomes and desired impact by 2023, providing a strategic programme overview of MSK prevention for England.

Three of the key deliverables from this framework are:

  • An increase in good MSK workplace health practice across all employment sectors.

  • Reduced number of work days lost to MSK conditions.

  • Opportunity for people with MSK conditions to return to work early and remain in employment until statutory pensionable age.

For help and advice in managing the MSD risks in your workplace contact us here.

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