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Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders

In 2017, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) symbolized on average 87% of occupational pathologies listed and compensated on French territory. MSDs are the name chosen to encompass all pathologies revolving around all joints of the human body. These musculoskeletal disorders can have countless origins, but their classification as an occupational disease leads to the search for solutions at the company level.

Published on 3 July 2023 - Manut-LM

What are the musculoskeletal disorders constantly encountered?

The entire human body can be affected by MSDs. However, the upper part characterized by joints, nerves, muscles and tendons are regularly attacked. The demonstrations are crescendo according to their gravity:

  • Presence of pain only during said work activity,
  • Presence of pain always during said activity and slight persistence after rest,
  • Presence of pain and stiffness but now on a regular basis.

Among other TMS constantly met we have:

  • Rotator cuff syndrome and spinous tendonitis that attack the shoulders,
  • Epicondylitis and epitrochleitis that attack the shoulders,
  • Ductal syndromes (carpal and guyon) that attack the wrist
  • Tendonitis that attacks the hand,
  • Neurovascular disorders: Raynaud’s syndrome, hypothenar hammer syndrome,
  • Muscular disorders and discs: low back pain, lower back, neck tension syndrome.

The lower part of the human body can also be a victim of MSDs. The knee for employees using their knees or working squatting will be the target of knee bursitis. The repetition of flexions and extensions of the ankle can follow an attack of the Achilles tendon.

What causes musculoskeletal disorders?

The personal conditions of each employee (age, state of health, etc.) taken into account, however, it is appropriate to state that MSDs are directly caused by work arrangements. Indeed, an overexploitation of the body accompanied by a shorter recovery time generally leads to the visibility of symptoms.

Biomechanical causes

There are four of them.

  • A posture outside the comfort zone causes stretching or compression of the structures (Standard NF EN 1005-4).
  • The strength by its intensity, the characteristics of the object lifted, the grip distance and muscle contraction.
  • Repeated movements.
  • The time factor.

All these causes together cause an MSD.

Environmental causes

Inter alia; shocks, mechanical pressures from body contact, cold, lighting and vibration add up to mechanical causes to worsen MSDs.

Organizational causes

The appearance of MSDs among employees is also linked to deplorable working conditions, a poor distribution of work, an unfavourable environment or a hellish pace of work.

Sociological causes

The perception of work by employees or the recognition of merit by superiors must be taken into account. Tensions related to time pressure, deterioration of relationships related to the social experience of the group or uncertainty about the job itself are all causes of musculoskeletal disorders.

MSDs have an impact on the employee. As a result, there are visible repercussions in the professional or private sector of the latter as well as on the company.

What is the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on the company?

It is of several types including:

  • The lack of strength and energy of high-performing employees affected by the pathology that will cause a reduction in performance,
  • The departure of experienced employees constitutes for the company a loss of qualitative manpower,
  • Harmful atmosphere and lack of motivation,
  • Increase in accidents and incidents due to low responsiveness and attention.
  • Forced recruitment of more staff to compensate for the absences of people affected by MSDs,
  • Failure to achieve the company’s objectives due to all the elements listed above resulting in financial losses.

Musculoskeletal disorders are capable in the worst case of causing a total stoppage of work for the employee for long periods of time. This makes the need to avoid MSDs as much as possible for their employees paramount.

What are the different ways to prevent musculoskeletal disorders?

The prevention of MSDs in companies is based on certain main axes, namely; the assessment of risks in their entirety, the involvement of all layers of the company and the sharing of knowledge and skills. These preventive measures follow a very specific structural order:


The prevention of MSDs requires the involvement of the management team through:

  • Awareness of the seriousness of the pathology and the establishment of a preventive approach,
  • The investment of resources required also in financial, temporal and human terms,
  • The involvement of all the different services and at all levels (CHSCT, staff representatives, etc.)
  • The use of aid external to the company (CRAM, CGSS, CARSAT, IPRP, etc.)

This phase is a source of motivation and hope for employees with MSDs. However, it is only the beginning.


Here it is a question of collecting the necessary information on the health of employees and detecting workstations at risk. This action is carried out in collaboration with the health services through interviews with employees, the study of the information obtained or the implementation of the SALTSA protocol. It is also and above all a question after establishment of the presence of all causes of MSDs already listed above in order to propose the beginnings of solutions.

Risk management

The prevention of MSDs takes the form of ergonomic actions with the aim of modifying working conditions with the ultimate aim of minimizing the constraints on employees. It is therefore useful for the company to use the information previously collected. The planning of this preventive action is necessary because it must not reveal any haste. Thus we will have as action:

  • Reduced professional demands

This is possible through actions of the higher authorities of the company such as the modernization of work tools, the grouping of workers into teams and the establishment of a better organization. Compliance with NF EN ISO 14738 (X 35-104, 2008) on anthropometric requirements for the design of workstations on machines, and NF EN 12464-1 (X 90-003-1, 2011) on workplace lighting provides recommendations for the average illumination to be maintained is also to be promoted.

  • The instruction of the company and its employees

Instruction and information are equally important points in order to control the risks of MSDs. An employee informed about the risks involved takes precautions. Pathologies quickly diagnosed lead to lesser consequences and even less are the expenses and losses incurred by the company.

  • Maintenance of functional abilities

The maintenance of functional abilities requires regular physical exercises and warm-ups before starting service (for those that impact the physical).


Evaluation is included in MSD prevention modes. It is necessary that it be included from the first attempts to find a solution in order to establish follow-up guides that go hand in hand with the company’s objectives and to have feedback from employees.

The search for ways to prevent MSDs requires the involvement of all the company’s stakeholders and also the practice of ergonomics.

What musculoskeletal disorders are constantly encountered?

Musculoskeletal disorders constantly encountered are: epicondylitis and epitrochleitis, rotator cuff syndrome and tendonitis, ductal syndrome, neurovascular diseases and finally muscle and disc disorders.

What causes musculoskeletal disorders?

The causes of musculoskeletal disorders are numerous and of several kinds: Biomechanical, environmental, organizational and sociological causes.

What is the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on the company?

The impact of MSDs on the company are: Loss of qualitative manpower, increase in absences, increase in accidents and incidents, forced recruitment of staff and finally failure to achieve the company’s objectives and financial losses.

What are the different ways to prevent musculoskeletal disorders?

The different modes of prevention of musculoskeletal disorders are mobilization and investigation.

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