The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on the Workforce

The Impact of Musculoskeletal Disorders on the Workforce

MSD impacts thousands of workers every year.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), or “ergonomic injuries,” can occur when a person performs repetitive motions or overexerts parts of the body like the muscles, tendons or ligaments. MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries and lower back injuries.

But just how common is MSD? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a large number of cases of days away from work (DAFW) were from MSD in 2018. In total, 272,780 cases of MSD, or 30 percent of the overall DAFW cases, caused people to miss work in the private sector.

The industries that accounted for the highest amount of DAFW cases from MSD were retail, manufacturing and healthcare and social assistance. MSD cases in these industries totaled 50 percent of the overall DAFW MSD cases.

All of these industries fell close to the median total DAFW, which was 12 days in the private sector. According to the BLS, the median DAFW was 10 in retail trade, 14 in manufacturing and 8 in health care and social assistance.

The industries with the highest amount of DAFW were the information and transportation and warehousing industries. The median number of DAFW in the information industry was 33 days, and in the transportation and warehousing industry, 26 days.

MSDs also have negative impacts on employers. According to the CDC, “lost productivity, and increased health care, disability, and worker’s compensation costs” are just a few of the costs for workers. The Institute in Medicine estimates that $45 to $54 billion are lost to work-related MSD.

To learn more about mitigating MSD in the workplace, listen to our podcast.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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