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Musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, is a broad umbrella label for many types of aches and pains, and treatment is determined by exact medical diagnosis. They fall largely into three types of problem: Upper limb disorders, lower limb disorders, and back pain. Most cases can be satisfactorily dealt with by your doctor. There are other alternative methods, such as treatment through a physiotherapist, chiropractors, and osteopaths that can be helpful in the assessment and treatment of these disorders.

They are not always caused at work, but they are often aggravated by the work that we do. When this is the case, there is a requirement for an employer to assess the cause and take remedial action. Risk factors causing MSDs can be found in virtually every workplace where someone is using DSE or any manual task. MSDs are only reportable if they lead to a major injury or result in absence lasting more than three days off of work, and they should be reported as such in the normal way.

There are a variety of precautionary measures an employer can take to reduce the risk of MSDs. The appropriate control measure can depend on the sort of work your employees do and what is reasonably practical. The first step is to assess the MSD risks that the task generate. Next, try to eliminate as many of them as possible by redesigning the task, providing aids, introducing breaks, or job rotation.

When considering the risks, potential precautionary measures and solutions, ensure you consult your workforce, as often they have first-hand knowledge of the risks associated with particular tasks. Once the precautionary measures have been introduced, you should monitor their effectiveness and ensure these measures have not introduced new risks. The HSE has produced a number of publications that provide potential solutions that may well help with your choice of precautionary measures, some of which relate to a particular industry.