Musculoskeletal disorders


Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders include back pain, neck or arm strains and diseases of the joints. All parts of the workforce can be affected by MSK. It accounts for 40 per cent of all sickness absence in the NHS, which in many cases become long-term absences. MSK can be caused by work-related injuries, such as incorrect handling, or not having equipment in the workplace personally adjusted. Prevention and early intervention is key to effectively managing MSK disorders.

Evaluating health and wellbeing interventions 

By evaluating health and wellbeing interventions for healthcare staff, you can ensure that initiatives and interventions available within an NHS organisation are evidence-based and value for money. The 'Evaluating health and wellbeing interventions for healthcare staff: key findings' report gathers evidence on the level and type of evaluation activity being carried out. This report will enable you to learn how to evaluate the health and wellbeing initiatives available to staff, to guide the appropriate interventions for MSK and long term sicknesses.


Preventing musculoskeletal disorders and long-term absences should be a high priority for any organisation. Ways to prevent work-related injuries include:

  • encouraging your staff and their safety representatives to tell you when MSK disorders start to develop
  • reviewing risk assessments regularly and when necessary
  • regularly check the accident book and sickness absence records
  • having information and advice on work-related injuries and MSK disorders available
  • providing work station assessments for employees.

To effectively manage MSK diseases, organisations are advised to implement a robust MSK policy. It is essential to understand that early intervention is key to prevention of such disorders and the shortening of employee's recovery. 

For further information on musculoskeletal disorders and the prevention of long-term sickness absence, use our 'Everything you need to know about sickness absence' toolkit.

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