Musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace are on the increase and are reported to be the single biggest cause of sickness absence and loss of productivity in the UK. Organisations are under mounting pressure to safeguard their peoples’ health and wellbeing in order to maintain performance levels, minimise absenteeism and protect the bottom line.
What causes Musculoskeletal Disorders?
Employers and workers alike are often unaware that bad posture, prolonged sitting and poor workstation design can be the trigger for the musculoskeletal pain and discomfort experienced. Muscles, joints and tendons in all parts of the body can be affected and most injuries tend to develop over time. The causes for these injuries are not always immediately obvious but if left untreated or unmanaged they can progress from mild to severe conditions and lead to longer-term physical health conditions.
Impact of Workplace Injuries on UK Business
In Great Britain alone, 469,000 workers were reported suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2017/18, with 6.6 million working days being lost as a result. 42% of the reported disorders affected upper limbs or neck, 40% the back and 18% the lower limbs. As an employer or manager you share responsibility for your people and understand the potential impact this can have on absenteeism and consequently on operational performance and functioning.
At the same time we must not underestimate presenteeism, with people affected by musculoskeletal injuries not taking any time off at all but instead performing below par and impacting on overall productivity levels. DSE Assessments are one major tool in proactively addressing risk factors plus preventing and managing workplace related injury.
A Changing Workplace and Risk Management
The growth in agile working and rising interaction with mobile and hand-held devices is likely to further impact posture and physical health. Their presence infiltrates our existence. Whether answering emails, working on an important spreadsheet, watching a video or updating social media, it is very easy to adopt and maintain unsuitable postures for too long and organisations need to be aware of the risks.
Ensuring you carry out DSE Assessments in conjunction with raising awareness of poor posture and relevant posture training are steps in the right direction. Incorporating these into your health and wellbeing strategy will build a workplace culture that promotes musculoskeletal health.
Employers and their Legal Obligations
Proactively managing the physical health and incidence of musculoskeletal injury in your organisation will not only ensure your business meets its legal obligations as published by the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) but it will also benefit your business by:
- improving the overall health, wellbeing and morale of employees
- sustaining productivity as a result of reduced sickness absence
- encouraging positive behaviour and the adoption of DSE best practice
The Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations were first introduced more than 25 years ago. In view of issues such as agile working, workplace stress and the changing attitudes of those entering the workplace, some organisation are unclear how well the regulations apply in today’s workplace and whether the DSE Regulations are still relevant?
Musculoskeletal injuries and Environmental Stress Factors
Whilst musculoskeletal disorders are commonly linked to bad posture, prolonged sitting and poor workstation ergonomics, they must not be viewed in isolation. Workplace psychosocial factors such as organisational culture, the health and safety climate and human factors may also create the conditions for work-related musculoskeletal disorders to occur. Generally, none of these factors acts separately to cause these disorders. They more commonly occur as a result of a combination and interaction among them.
Proactive workplace interventions in order to maintain high work performance and reduced absence levels should therefore include measures to promote musculoskeletal wellbeing for the employees and measures, both individual and organisational, to minimize the risk of avoidable stress reactions. Knowing how your people are at risk and understanding how your workers interact with their office environment is critical to meeting business goals.
We know there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. That is why we look at the bigger picture. Whether you need to improve the wellbeing of individuals, access targeted training or enhance the productivity of departments or the organisation, our holistic approach to solving your issues will ensure an effective outcome.
Our upcoming blog series will address the DSE Assessment process, what the DSE Regulations are and whether they are more than just guidance. We will also be looking at how relevant these are in the context of the agile work environment.
If you would like to talk to us about your specific requirements, please get in touch.