MSDs are preventable and the HSE has published a range of useful tools that will help health and safety representatives make representations regarding identified problem areas and from there raise issues through health and safety inspection and committees to work with employers and managers to reduce the levels of MSDs in the workplace.
- For basic information on preventing MSDs go to: https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/msds.htm
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most commonly reported cause of occupational ill-health in the UK with over half a million workers suffering from a work-related MSD at any one time.
MSDs are prevalent in all sectors but with logistics and transport, agriculture, construction and health and social care having significantly higher than average rates.
Past TUC Safety Rep surveys have shown that it was also one of the problems most encountered by Trade Union health and safety reps with a third saying that back strains were a major concern for union members and over a quarter saying that repetitive strain injuries were a major concern.
There are three HSE MSD toolkits that can be used by both health and safety reps and managers to help highlight high-risk tasks. These are:
- Manual handling assessment charts: https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/mac/index.htm
- Assessment of repetitive tasks of the upper limbs: https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/uld/art/index.htm
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg478.htm
The main regulations and related guidance are also on the HSE and GOV.UK sites. These are:
- Manual Handling Operations 1992 and the guidance on the regulations:
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations and guidance:
There are a range of guides published by the HSE. Many of them are written for employers to tell them how to comply with the law, but they are equally of use to health and safety reps.
- Manual handling at work: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg143.htm
- Upper limb disorders in the workplace: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg60.htm
- Working with display screen equipment: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg36.pdf
- Display screen equipment workstation checklist: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ck1.pdf
The HSE material will ensure that you know what employers and managers must do to obey the law.