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Musculoskeletal Disorders - 5 ways an employer can cut down on absences

Photo shows a man with back painMusculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were responsible for the loss of more than 8,000,000 UK working days in 2013/14. So how could employers improve to get some of these days back in the future?

These statistics were published by the Office for National Statistics, who also revealed that more than 500,000 MSDs were caused by work related activities. It’s clear that businesses could be doing more to safeguard their workforce from these conditions.

Here is an idea of where they could start:

1.       Acting fast…then taking it slow

Early diagnosis and treatment of a musculoskeletal disorder won’t necessarily prevent a workplace absence, but it could significantly reduce the absence time. The sooner something can be done about the problem the better and the number of lost working days could be curbed. This is better for the business and better for the worker who strives to make a living.

Of course, fast action is important but rushing an employee back to work after their issues with an MSD could exacerbate the problem. Companies can provide a structured back to work process which allows staff to return to work in phases. This could reduce the risk of MSDs returning.

2.       Improving workplace safety

When you assess employee workstations and shared work areas, it should be possible to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders from occurring. The first thing to do is identify the possible causes and then implement the necessary adjustments or adaptations to the space. It might be better seating options or could be a change to the structure of the workday to allow staff to increase their mobility. In manual working environments, this is more likely to be accomplished by instilling safe working practices.

3.       Educating workers

By educating staff on the causes of MSDs, you can empower them to take their safety into their own hands. Improving posture, working techniques and encouraging healthy active lifestyles could reduce the risk of employee MSDs.

4.       Getting physical

It’s virtually impossible to get somebody to exercise if they don’t want to but you can facilitate physical activity in a number of smart and simple ways. One of the most popular employee benefits provided to UK workers is a corporate gym membership. Employers can also provide in-work exercise classes or an on-site gym. Walking clubs, charity events and other group activities can also be used to encourage mobility and fitness.

5.       Trusting the professionals

Physiotherapy is essential for overcoming many MSDs, but the average small business can’t afford to hire an in-house physiotherapist. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Corporate health cash plans or private medical insurance policies could allow workers to access the physiotherapy they require without costly expenses. With a corporate health cash plan, an employee could access the physiotherapy they need and then claim back the cost of the procedure up to the limits of their policy.

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