Over the last few years UK statistics have demonstrated a general downward trend in musculoskeletal disorders including upper limb disorders. However, this still remains a significant risk with manual handling, keyboard use, repetitive movement and awkward/tiring movements all contributing to reported injuries in the workplace in 2016/2017.

The traditional high-risk sectors such as post/courier, agricultural and construction sectors remain, however, our reliance on technology in the modern workplace is another growing area. In 2016/2017, HSE statistics showed that a staggering 56,000 employees reported injuries caused by keyboard and repetitive work alone, making up 28% of the overall number of work-related upper limb disorders reported.

These statistics highlight the significant difficulties faced by employers today. Cross-border, multiple locations and flexible working practices all add to the burden of risk. Our experience identifies the challenges of managing differing cultures and standards, and the risks faced by people who telecommute or choose to work from home.

The sometimes damaging and debilitating effects of upper limb disorders, not to mention the potential losses incurred during rehabilitation, highlight the importance of implementing effective management systems and developing wider support strategies.

The benefits of assessing risk, of providing information, training and instruction are all clear to see. But consider developing a wider pro-active strategy, e.g. providing additional one-to-one support for high risk employees and perhaps access to physiotherapy or massage. Such a strategy can be a valuable tool in managing absenteeism and can also contribute to improvements in the company’s culture and morale.

These systems should not be seen as a compliance exercise but as an exercise in enhancing productivity. In our experience the importance of a happy, healthy and appreciated workforce facilitates success for many companies.

For more information about our Ergonomics (DSE) support services please contact us at info@amalgamate-safety.com or call +44 (0)141 244 0181.