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The long term impact of MSK on employment

MSK conditions and mental health problems are the greatest cause of work loss and are often interrelated. Let's explore further.
Long Term Impact On Employment

For most people being in ‘good work’ – having a secure job with good working conditions is good for personal health, organisational productivity and economic prosperity.

Having a job can also contribute significantly to boosting self-esteem and financial security.

Supporting MSK conditions at work

Employers and employees have a critical role in promoting workplace health and wellbeing.

There is a growing body of evidence, intervention, tools and resources identifying good practices to protect employees, preventing the onset of MSK conditions and supporting those with an existing condition.

MSK health

Musculoskeletal health is integral to being able to work at all ages. It supports us with functional mobility and dexterity, balance and coordination, and contributes to muscular strength and endurance; essential to nearly all forms of work.

It also enables us to stay physically and mentally fit and reduce the occurrence of other health problems. Poor MSK health affects the workforce in all industries and business sectors, from construction to banking.

These conditions become more common as people age when they may also have other underlying health problems.

The impact of MSK problems on work

MSK problems are a common cause of a person’s inability to work. Many employees will continue to work despite suffering from an MSK condition such as back or neck pain.

Often people are not aware of the support available, this is mainly due to a lack of communication due to concerns about job stability. The impact of MSK problems on work is predicted to increase and will be a challenge with people working into older ages.

Mental health problems

MSK conditions and mental health problems are the greatest cause of work loss and are often interrelated. Chronic, disabling pain and ongoing MSK problems can be associated with depression and/or stress, leading to increased absence from work.

Around three in 10 people of working age who have a musculoskeletal condition also have depression. People with a mental health problem alongside a musculoskeletal condition are less likely to be at work.

The second most common cause of sickness absence

MSK conditions are the second most common cause of sickness absence, accounting for over 28 million days lost in work (22.4% of total sickness absence), surpassed only by absence due to minor illnesses such as cough and colds.

Small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) can be disproportionately affected through the loss of key staff for any period of time because of MSK ill-health.

MSK conditions commonly affect people’s ability to work, by causing them to be less productive, although still in work (presenteeism); to take sick leave, often for long periods (absenteeism); or to leave the workplace prematurely (work disabled).

Back, neck, muscle and joint conditions are the most common reasons why employees take time off work and the cause for the loss of productivity.

Video by Matthew Birtles, HSE:

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

This article is from the free online

Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach

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