Tackling musculoskeletal issues in the workplace – Michael Paton, Lead Musculoskeletal Disorders Policy at HSE

One of the HSE’s health priorities is to make significant improvements in preventing and controlling exposure to musculoskeletal disorders, the most commonly reported cause of occupational ill health in Great Britain. This year’s #OSHtober campaign focusses on this key topic.

In this special guest blog, Michael Paton, Lead Musculoskeletal Disorders Policy at HSE discusess their new national campaign, Go Home Healthy and with commitment from RoSPA, how they are tackling MSDs in the workplace.

The health and safety of workers is at the heart of everything that HSE does. Tackling work-related ill health is one of the strategic themes of the health and safety system strategy Helping Great Britain Work Well. Last year, work-related illness affected around 1.3 million workers and nearly 26 million working days were lost because of it. This impacts on people’s lives both in and outside of work.

As part of our commitment to tackling this, we’ve just launched a new national campaign ‘Go Home Healthy’ to draw attention to work-related ill health such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as well as work-related stress and occupational lung disease.

Quotapix STATS MSDs

The campaign sends the message that everyone has the right to go home healthy from work. We want to enable employers to do the right thing to protect their workers which will encourage a healthier more productive business #WorkRight.

Ultimately our intention is to see a significant improvement in the prevention and control of exposure to MSDs, and we’ve set in motion a number of things to make this happen including

  • shifting the emphasis away from manual handling training and towards risk elimination/ reduction through design solutions;
  • recognizing, through an HSE sponsored award, outstanding examples of where design solutions have been applied to eliminate or reduce the MSD risk;
  • undertaking research to understanding why, in some sectors where considerable effort has been made to tackle MSDs, there is still a significant risk to workers’ health;
  • and increasing our regulatory profile on this topic and ill-health more generally

This will hopefully build on the work of others, such as RoSPA’s #OSHtober, which will raise awareness of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and the effects poor manual handling practice has on the workforce. Such initiatives are already delivering good work, which HSE can amplify and support through our campaign.

We appreciate the commitment from RoSPA, and comparable organisations, and the practical support and resources they are contributing to tackling MSDs in the workplace. We definitely share an ambition for all workers to go home healthy.

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