To continue reading please register or login to your OHW+ account.
Homeworking and reduced activity during lockdowns have caused a significant increase in musculoskeletal issues. But with access to physiotherapy becoming difficult, Brett Hill considers whether online services could be the solution.
Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders have always been a cause of workplace absence. But with Covid-related factors likely to increase the prevalence of such problems, and fewer in-person appointments being undertaken by OH professionals, employers need to rethink how they could be addressed.
MSK issues are a ticking timebomb and we need to address them before we have a whole generation of employees who are suffering with them.
Working from home is likely to have caused a significant increase in MSK issues. While some employees may be lucky enough to have a home office, others will be working from the kitchen table, a cramped corner, or even their sofa or bed. This is bound to exacerbate issues. Even for those in the office, hot-desking and shared workspaces mean that desks and seats are no longer set to each individual's requirements. This means that MSK disorders are not just an issue for older employees, but affect all generations.
Prior to the pandemic, the 2019/2020 Labour Force Survey showed 480,000 workers suffered from work-related MSK disorders, with the loss of 8.9 million working days. While manual handling was still the most common cause of MSK disorder, awkward or tiring positions and keyboard work or repetitive action were also of concern.
Is there a solution?
Providing access to physiotherapy is a vital step to tackling the issue. Many MSK disorders can be helped and even cured through physiotherapy, which focuses on the biomechanical and structural rehabilitation of the individual.