Two-thirds of MSD-sufferers say work is a contributing factor

The report was evaluating OH provision in the context of work-related musculo-skeletal services. Image: Shutterstock

More than two-thirds (68%) of people with musculoskeletal issues say their job has been a contributing factor to their condition.

This is according to a survey of 2,000 workers by Willis Towers Watson, which highlighted the extent to which staff think their job has caused or exacerbated their musculoskeletal disorder.

Sixty-four per cent of MSD-sufferers thought their condition had been made worse by their occupation, while a third said their employer was aware of their condition but had not provided adequate support.

Workers aged 18-24 were found to be more likely than any other generation to claim that work had contributed to their MSD, with 87% of workers in this age bracket stating so. This compared with 80% of 25-to-34-year-olds; 61% of 45-to-54-year-olds and 58% of workers aged 55 and over.

Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, said: “Workplaces that promote good musculoskeletal health can play an important role in helping to alleviate the symptoms of MSK conditions and can even help prevent their onset.

“Despite a gradual decline in the rate of self-reported work-related MSK disorders – ranging from back pain and tendinitis to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – the latest Labour Force Survey suggests this trend has slowed over recent years and an estimated 6.9 million working days are still being lost to MSK conditions.

“MSK conditions are traditionally associated with older workers, but companies should not forget that employees across all age demographics can be susceptible, impairing their mobility and quality of life.”

Younger workers were just as likely as their older counterparts to state that the support they had received from their employer after making them aware of their condition had not been adequate. Thirty-three per cent of 18-to-44-year-olds did not consider the support they received from their employer as sufficient, compared with 32% of those aged 45 and over.

Blake added: “Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important, but many MSK conditions will develop over time with work-related causes including manual handling, lifting and repetitive actions such as keyboard work.

“Risk assessment can have a big preventative role to play here, helping identify potential problem areas and enabling employers to make practical workplace adjustments – from providing new equipment or improving office ergonomics to encouraging employees to move and stretch regularly.”

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