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How can businesses reduce musculoskeletal issues...?

9th Oct 2018 1st Oct 2019

How can businesses reduce musculoskeletal issues and minimise sickness absence in staff?

With workplace wellbeing and the importance of ergonomic office furniture high on the agenda for businesses across the UK, we’ve asked workplace health and wellbeing specialists, Fusion Occupational Health to give us their thoughts on how a wellbeing strategy can encourage staff members to reduce the risks of musculoskeletal issues and minimise sickness absence.

A leading cause of absence

Back and neck pain is one of the leading causes of absence from work.

The Health and Safety Executive found that 8.9 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17.

Early intervention is key and businesses can use occupational health campaigns to raise awareness through internal communications.

The dangers of sedentary working

Over the last 5 years, evidence has been mounting that links sedentary living and the leading causes of morbidity and mortality.

With 70% of sedentary behaviour taking place at work, dealing with the issue is more important now than ever.

As such, businesses should implement strategies and processes that give staff the opportunity to report any discomfort that they may be experiencing. Poor ergonomic design in terms of workstations and office layout can be a major contributing factor towards musculoskeletal issues and sickness absence.

An ergonomic assessment of your business, including a display screen equipment assessment, can highlight any issues and provide advice on how changes can be made to promote better posture.

An active working strategy

In order to promote workplace health and wellbeing, employers can implement active working strategies aimed at reducing the impact of sedentary working.

These can include:

• Standing and taking a break from computers every 30 minutes
• Standing during phone calls
• Using the stairs
• Having standing or walking meetings
• Eating lunch away from desks
• Walking to colleagues’ desks instead of phoning or emailing them
• Standing at the back of the room during presentations
• Using height-adjustable and standing desks

A combination of ergonomic workstations and structured occupational health services can help to minimise back, neck and joint pain. However, by far the best solution is to ensure that an organisation has a deep-rooted company culture based on being active and social. That doesn’t necessarily mean a workplace full of super-fit athletes. It can be as simple as encouraging people to get out of their seats regularly and socialise with their colleagues somewhere other than sat at their desks.

Simple steps like this can result in fewer musculoskeletal issues and a reduction in sickness absence. Not to mention happy, healthy staff.