New NSC Report Highlights Need for DEI in Preventing Workplace Injuries

New NSC Report Highlights Need for DEI in Preventing Workplace Injuries

The study links diversity, equity and inclusion to reducing musculoskeletal disorders.

The National Safety Council (NSC) released a new report focusing on the role diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) play in preventing workplace injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Recent research shows workers of color face more work-related illnesses and injuries.

According to a recent release, "The Intersection of DEI and MSDs: Ensuring Equitable Outcomes" identifies workplace factors contributing to inequitable MSD outcomes and suggests solutions. Part of the MSD Solutions Lab initiative, this research focuses on work organization, workplace design, safety culture, psychological safety, and psychosocial risk factors.

"At the National Safety Council, we believe fostering diversity, equity and inclusion is not only a moral imperative but also essential for creating safer and healthier work environments for all,” NSC President and CEO Lorraine Martin said in a statement. “This report, which analyzes the impact of diversity, equity and inclusion on the largest category of workplace injuries, underscores our commitment to advancing equitable outcomes within the occupational safety landscape."

Key findings from the report—which references over 100 academic publications and sources—include that shift work, long hours and part-time status increase the risk of MSDS due to inadequate recovery time and prolonged hazard exposure. And workstations and PPE are often designed for the average white male, not fitting women and employees with disabilities. 

Safety culture is also affected by the lack of benefits like paid sick leave, which can lead to an unsafe environment where employees feel pressured to work despite injuries. Psychological safety, including workers' sense of belonging and the ability to voice concerns, significantly affects their well-being, with workers of color often feeling undervalued. 

Psychosocial risk factors such as job stress and lack of control contribute to MSDs, especially in jobs largely held by women and workers of color. The report outlines solutions based on the hierarchy of controls, including elimination of high-risk tasks, adaptation of workplace designs, provision of ergonomic devices, implementation of inclusive policies, and regular PPE checks. 

For more on the NSC's efforts to prevent MSDs, visit its MSD Solutions Lab webpage.

About the Author

Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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