European Report Focuses on Interventions for Workers With MSDs

THE European Agency for Safety and Health at Work has unveiled a report that focuses on the retention, reintegration and rehabilitation of workers with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The publication, "Work-related musculoskeletal disorders: Back to work report," was launched to coincide with the European Week for Safety and Health at Work, which takes place from Oct. 22-26.

MSDs are the most common work-related health problem in Europe, affecting millions of workers. Manual handling, frequent bending and twisting, repetition of movements, heavy physical work and vibration are the main causes of MSDs, officials said. Additionally, the risk tends to increase with the pace of work, low satisfaction, high work demands and job stress.

"MSDs reduce company profitability and also add to the social costs of government. But these disorders also strongly reduce the employability and working capacity of those affected. Therefore, tackling MSDs is morally and ethically important," said Jukka Takala, director of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Tackling MSDs means taking action in the workplace. Prevention is the best method, but for workers who are already suffering from MSDs, the challenge is to help them stay working and, if necessary, reintegrate them into the workplace.

The report supports "Lighten the Load," the agency's 2007 campaign to tackle MSDs in the workplace. It evaluates the effectiveness of taking action in the workplace and gives an overview of European and international policy initiatives to retain, reintegrate and rehabilitate workers with MSDs.

For back pain, the evidence suggests that it is important for workers with MSDs to stay active and return to ordinary activities as early as possible. Combining action, including providing clinical management, rehabilitation programs and workplace intervention, is more effective than single elements alone, officials said.

The report can be accessed at http://osha.europa.eu/publications/reports/7807300.

More information on the campaign can be found at http://ew2007.osha.europa.eu.

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