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Musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders are not the result of aggression caused by microbes or poisoning of the body through eating and handling hazardous materials in the workplace.

Published on 6 April 2023 - Manut-LM

These are pathologies that unfortunately cause numerous damages and after-effects to the body, at the level of the joints (shoulders, neck, spine, tendons, lower back, muscles, etc.). They are most often the result of intense or repeated professional activity without interruption.

If work is one of the most important causes of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), they allow the proliferation of occupational diseases among workers. Occupational diseases are diseases contracted in the course of work and classified in table 57 of recognized occupational diseases.

But they can also be recognized in some way without necessarily being included in this table. The tendency to neglect the consequences of musculoskeletal disorders may allow them to worsen, whereas a musculoskeletal disorder can be cured.

What are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a group of pathologies that develop around the joints, and very often affect the upper limbs (shoulders, neck, spine, etc.) and the lower limbs (tendons, lower back, muscles, joints, etc.) of the body.

Since 1997, they have been the cause of two thirds of all occupational diseases declared in France. This is why it is important to define the socio-professional categories that are most affected.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), how have they evolved over time?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) have grown exponentially since the first cases were reported. In 1973, there were already 174 cases. This figure increased in 1981 with 428 cases. From 1981 to 1991, 1,340 cases were recorded and a slight increase was observed during the 2000s, when 13,104 workers reported a musculoskeletal disorder. In 2004, this figure increased tenfold to 24,878 cases. The latest census in 2012 reported 52,500 cases.

Table 57, in which all occupational diseases are listed, shows an increase of between 20 and 25% per year in cases of MSDs.

The curve of the increase of the recognized cases of occupational diseases due to MSD shows a frightening growth. This leaves questions about the causes and stages of the appearance of MSDs in a general way.

This is what allowed MSDs to be recognized as diseases in Table 57 of occupational diseases since the 1990s. Although the numbers reported are not the exact number of people with an occupational disease due to MSDs, it is fair to say that they may have occurred before the first survey in 1971.

It can therefore be pointed out that certain social data filters may have biased the above figures, including the fact that patients were not yet aware of the manifestations of their illnesses under the constraint of the fear of losing their jobs.

Another filter is the fact that employers threaten employees in order to limit the number of declarations and avoid increases in contributions linked to the number of declared cases among their staff.

Which socio-professional categories are affected by musculoskeletal disorders?

MSDs affect all industries, but even more so: lower class employees, labourers and middle managers. 70% of MSD cases occur in the meat, clothing, household equipment, laundry, hypermarket and supermarket activities, home help and construction industries.

MSDs represent 86% of occupational diseases and particularly affect workers.

Among the socio-professional categories affected by MSDs are

  • Senior managers who account for 1014 of occupational disease cases;
  • Intermediate professions, which account for 1,277 cases of occupational diseases;
  • The employee category accounts for 12,035 cases of occupational diseases;
  • workers, who account for 38,180 cases of occupational diseases;

This gives a cumulative total of 52,506 cases of occupational diseases as shown by the CNAM (Caisse nationale d’assurance maladie des travailleurs salariés) figures in 2012.

MSD-related illnesses are also categorized by gender. Women are the most affected because they are most often subjected to repetitive work. It is important for companies to find solutions to prevent them.

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