How to help employees with musculoskeletal disorders

Guest Blog by Louise Richardson


The NHS claims that musculoskeletal conditions impact the bones, joints and muscles. Consequently, it’s important that employers assist their workers suffering from musculoskeletal conditions to reduce causing more harm or pain in the workplace.



A study by the Health and Safety Executive found that more than half a million employees had a work-related musculoskeletal disorder in 2016 and 2017. But how can you help employees suffering from musculoskeletal conditions?


Musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace


Many people have this type of health issue — in fact, a quarter of the UK adult population are affected by musculoskeletal disorders. Research collected in 2016/17 showed that:


  • 45% of musculoskeletal disorders are to do with the upper limbs or neck.
  • 38% are related to the back.
  • 17% involve the lower limbs.


Out of sufferers within the working age (16-64), nearly six out of ten are employed. However, many of those with musculoskeletal conditions struggle to go to work full time due to their condition — and 30 million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal disorders in 2016. Considering the average UK salary and a working day of 7.5 hours, an individual sick day can cost an employer £107.85 if the worker receives full sick pay.


How you can help


Clearly, many people suffer from this condition, so chances are, your business will employ someone with it at some point. So, what can you do?

Expert equipment

Here are some examples of specialist apparatus to help sufferers:

  • Ergonomic keyboards: designed to reduce muscle strain that can occur after a few hours, those with arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome may also benefit from these.
  • Lifting assistance: if you want relief for pain in the knee joint, back and other areas, offer a trolley to help employees transport things.
  • Sitting/standing desks: sitting in the same position for a long time can cause pain, which these types of desk can help relieve.


Remote working


Presenteeism means working with reduced productivity due to not feeling fully fit and nearly four out of ten public sector workers have experienced this at work, according to the Office for National Statistics. Often, employees are fearful of ringing in sick and go to work regardless — you can help alleviate the issue by allowing them to work from home, as even commuting to work and getting in and out of the car can be painful for people with this condition.


Being more flexible will also let your worker go to rehabilitation or physio appointments to improve the issue.


Complementary therapy


Musculoskeletal pain sufferers are often on medication, but complementary therapy can also help. Lowering stress levels at work is important, as anxiety can raise pain levels and prevent employees making it to work. Did you know that depression is four times more common in people with persistent pain than in those without? Create a positive workplace that encourages communication, so employees feel more able to chat over problems.

A good complementary therapy is yoga. Why not organise classes within break times or after work to lower pain levels in employees and ultimately reduce sick days?


Other ways to help


Here are more methods of helping staff with musculoskeletal disorders:

  • Encourage communication inside and outside of work.
  • Spot the signs early so you can put measures in place to help.
  • Implement a ‘return-to-work’ programme, as phased returns might help get employees back into the swing of work and lower the risk of them taking sick leave again.


Putting preventative measures in place


Spend time preventing, not curing the problem. Due to this condition, 8.9 million working days were lost to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs), which accounted for 35% of all working days lost. Some WRMSDs are linked to certain work patterns:


  • Fixed or inhibited body positions.
  • Concentration on small parts of the body (e.g. hands or the wrist).
  • Working without enough time to rest.


Encourage your staff to move about regularly and take their full break times to help reduce the risk of pain-related days off. The number of people with musculoskeletal disorders remains prominent in the UK. But by implementing specialist equipment, working from home entitlements and complementary therapy, you can help reduce sick days and create a more helpful, positive working environment for your staff.


Author bio

This article was created by Louise Richardson, a copywriter at digital marketing agency, Mediaworks, since 2017. After graduating with a degree in Media Production from University of Sunderland, Louise completed a post-graduate course in Magazine Journalism at PMA Media Training in London before becoming a freelance writer, where she wrote articles for multiple industries. Prior to her position at Mediaworks, Louise was a content writer at travel agency, Hays Travel, and digital marketing company, Visualsoft.

Author: Editorial Team

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