What is a Musculoskeletal Disorder?
A musculoskeletal disorder (or an MSD) is a term that covers any damage or disorder to the body’s musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system is made up of our bones, muscles, cartilage, joints, blood vessels, nerves, tissues and ligaments. MSD’s are the most common work related health problem in Europe (OSH Europa). Across the EU 25% of workers report backache and 23% report muscle pain. MSD’s are a major cause of workplace absence and in some European states, MSD’s account for 40% of workplace compensation costs. Clearly, employers are not doing enough to prevent musculoskeletal damage in the workplace.
What Causes Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders? (WRMSD’s)
- Manual handling
- Heavy physical work
- Awkward and static postures
- Repetition of movements
The risks increase with poor job satisfaction, high stress, cold environments and high job demands. MSD risk factors exist in almost every occupation. However, agriculture, construction, transportation and storage and human health and social work activities are particularly high-risk industries.
What are Common Musculoskeletal Disorders?
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Radial Tunnel Syndrome
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
- Ligament Sprain
- Mechanical Back Syndrome
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Digital Neuritis
- Ruptured or herniated discs
- Tension Neck Syndrome
Generally, musculoskeletal disorders fall into three categories:
- Back pain
- Upper limb disorders
- Lower limb disorders
A musculoskeletal disorder can be responsible for chronic pain, which means pain lasting longer than 12 weeks, whether it be intermittent or constant. Read our guide to chronic pain claims. Musculoskeletal disorders can be responsible for disability, surgery and long recovery periods.
Not all musculoskeletal disorders are caused by the workplace, some may be caused by poor personal health. However, the employer has to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of workplace MSD’s such as:
- Job rotation. Because repetitive or strenuous tasks can cause injury, the employer should rotate workers onto different tasks. Giving employees a ‘larger’ job where they are responsible for more than one repetitive task also creates more job satisfaction and prevents work from becoming monotonous and boring.
- Tools and equipment. Good quality, well-maintained tools can prevent muscle strain.
- Training. The employee should be trained on how to conduct their activities safely in a way that will not cause injury.
- Return to work plans. If you’ve been off work because of an injury, your employer should have systems in place to help you return to work. You may have to avoid certain activities for a certain time so that they don’t make your problem worse and you have time to heal.
If your employer has not demonstrated this duty of care to you, then you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim with ASD.
To speak to a solicitor about workplace injuries, fill in our claims form or call 0800 163 622 from 8am – 9pm. If we think you may be able to make a claim, we can arrange an immediate home visit to discuss your queries.