Musculo-skeletal disorders account for around 40 per cent of overall sickness absence in the NHS, and in many cases become long term absences.
All you need to know in 30 seconds
- Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSDs) include back, arm and neck pains and diseases of the joints.
- MSDs account for around 40 per cent of NHS employees sickness absence, and often become long term absences.
- MSDs can be caused by work-related injuries, such as incorrect handling techniques or not having the correct equipment.
- Signpost the absent employee immediately to advice and support to hasten their recovery and prevent a potential long term absence. Early intervention can make a big difference.
- Support may include self referral via the Occupational Health Physiotherapy Service or alternatively self referral to occupational health counselling services
- Review risk assessments in your department regularly, with reference to the Board’s Moving and Handling Policies and Guidance documents.
- When an employee shows signs of recovery, consider therapeutic or phased return to work, reasonable adjustments, or,with occupational health guidance,alternative work or redeployment where possible.
All you need to know in detail
Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSDs) include back pain, arm or neck strains and diseases of the joints. MSDs can affect all parts of the workforce, and can be caused by work-related injuries, such as incorrect handling techniques or not having equipment personally adjusted for the employee.
As a manager, you play a key role in providing support to employees as you are the first point of contact when they experience difficulties which may affect their work and wellbeing.
Early intervention can make a big difference in shortening the employee’s recovery time and preventing a potential long term absence. Signposting to relevant services can provide prompt support to employees (for example the self referral via the Occupational Health Physiotherapy Service or alternatively self referral to occupational health counselling services) in order for them to return to work. Access to occupational health is be available to employees through referral by you, or through self-referral . Make sure you are aware of the support services that are available.
To help prevent work-related MSDs and long term absences:
- encourage your employees to tell you when MSDs start to develop
- familiarise yourself with the Board’s policies and guidance on Moving & Handling
- review your risk assessments regularly and when necessary
- regularly check the accident book and sickness absence records
- respond promptly when someone reports a MSD
- have information and advice on MSDs on hand
- learn about any support services available
- use all available information to identify measures that will enable you to reduce the risk to employees and others
- arrange modified working when necessary, with reference to occupational health advice, to help people stay at work until they are fit to resume their usual job.
When managing employees with MSDs, you may become involved in helping to rehabilitate and redeploy employees. This could include:
- helping employees to access support services such as, physiotherapy and counselling
- designing return to work plans including phased return
- making reasonable adjustments for employees
- redeploying employees if it is not possible for them to resume their original role.
Getting your employee back to work sooner will benefit both them and the organisation, and in many cases help speed up their recovery.