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Understanding MSDs to avoid them

Published on 24 September 2019 - Manut-LM

MSDs: what are we talking about?

MSDs (musculoskeletal disorders) are the leading cause of compensation for occupational diseases in France. They affect the muscles, tendons and nerves around the joints and can be recognized by pain and discomfort in movement.
In 2018, more than 87% of these illnesses resulted in time off work or financial compensation due to sequelae*.

MSDs are then responsible for chronic pain such as back pain, particularly in the cervical or lumbar vertebrae. But they also lead to tendonitis in the wrists, elbows or even shoulders.

However, it is easy to avoid these inconveniences.

MSDs: environments at risk

Several factors explain the appearance of MSDs. Poor posture, an unsuitable work space or repetitive movements will cause these pains.

In order to identify and therefore prevent MSD risks in your company, it is necessary to evaluate the biomechanical stresses. Thus, repetitive movements, carrying loads, prolonged maintenance of the same posture, excessive efforts or extreme joint amplitudes will most certainly cause MSDs in employees. Leaning on a hand, using vibrating objects, prolonged work on a screen are also causes of pain that can be easily avoided.

Repeated or prolonged neck extension, extreme wrist positions, working above shoulder level, and reaching beyond the comfort zone are also sources of this type of disorder.

Factors related to the work environment can also be the cause of occupational diseases. Poor lighting, high noise levels, or poor thermal conditions may require the employee to adopt an uncomfortable position to get closer to or further away from problem sources.

Finally, an employee’s stress will increase the tone of his or her muscles and promote the occurrence of MSDs in the neck, shoulders and forearms.

MSDs: the sectors concerned

Every sector of activity is concerned, in particular the food industry, metallurgy, industrial cleaning, construction and public works, mass distribution, etc.

This is why it is important to prevent these disorders. This prevention must be done through a dialogue between management and employees and requires simple adaptations of workstations. It is also important to ensure that each movement is performed in the least restrictive position for the muscles most in demand.

A survey was carried out in 2008 by 350 occupational physicians, among 5,000 employees in the retail sector. It appears that there are more musculoskeletal disorders among retail employees: 85% of retail employees suffer from musculoskeletal disorders, compared to 75% for the population as a whole: 60% have back pain, and 30% suffer from wrist and shoulder pain.

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