What is Musculoskeletal?
Musculoskeletal (MSK) health is essential to a full working life. It supports us with functional mobility and dexterity, balance and coordination. It also contributes to muscular strength and endurance and is essential to nearly all forms of work.
They can be episodic or chronic in duration and can also result from injury sustained in a work-related accident. Additionally, they can progress from mild to severe disorders. These disorders are rarely life threatening, but they impair the quality of life of a large proportion of the adult population.
Who needs a Musculoskeletal test?
Many trades without realising should have a musculoskeletal test. The main causes of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WRMSD) from the Labour Force Survey (2009/10-2011/12) were manual handling, working in awkward, tiring positions and repetitive action or keyboard work.
The main job roles that should have musculoskeletal tests are those that carry heavy loads on a regular basis or do a lot of bending and manual handling. Musculoskeletal testing is also included in the Safety Critical Medical for construction workers and can often be advised to office workers.
What is the process of Musculoskeletal testing?
If your employees are complaining of a bad back or joint pain, we recommend having annual musculoskeletal surveillance. This is a physical assessment of movement to ensure you can balance, move without pain, endurance etc.
Your employee will have to complete a questionnaire prior to their medical with the technician. Questions such as ‘In the last 6 months have you had any trouble (Such as numbness, swelling, ache, discomfort) in your neck / hands / lower back / upper back / knees / ankles / feet etc.’
If in the physical assessment or on the questionnaire there are concerns, this will be flagged by the nurse upon reviewal and further assessment may need to take place with an Occupational Health Practitioner (OHP).
Within the OHP assessment you will have a discussion with regards to the musculoskeletal issues and your job role. The OHP will produce a report for you which will advise any restrictions and/or recommendations to help you complete your job role. In severe cases you may be advised to reduce your exposure e.g. to manual handling or to change job role to ensure your employee is safe at work.
What medical problems can be directly caused by Musculoskeletal issues?
There are many issues that can relate to the musculoskeletal some of these include joint conditions such as Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Frozen Shoulder.
It can even relate to spinal disorders such as neck pain, low back pain and prolapsed disc. You can read more on this here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/msds.htm
Why should I provide Musculoskeletal tests at my workplace?
Providing your employees with a musculoskeletal assessment can help manage and improve any possible symptoms. As it is for any other health surveillances, musculoskeletal can be essential to maintaining a strong and healthy workforce.
Referring to the guidance on the HSE, as an employer you must protect your workers from the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling in the workplace. Manual handling means transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force. It includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving loads. A load can be an object, person or animal.
From 2019/20, 480,000 workers suffered from work related musculoskeletal disorders and 8.9 million working days were lost due to the disorder according to Labour Force Survey.