MSDs affect individuals’ ability to work and are therefore a major cost burden for businesses and economies:
- Absenteeism: absence from work due to MSDs accounts for a high proportion of working days lost in EU Member States. Workers with MSDs are also more likely, on average, to be absent for a longer period of time.
- Presenteeism: experiencing pain at work as a result of an MSD is likely to affect performance and productivity.
- Early or forced retirement: workers suffering from an MSD may need to give up work completely, and are more likely than those without to believe that they will not be able to do the same job at the age of 60.
Given the high prevalence of work-related MSDs, it makes good business sense to invest in preventing their onset or occurrence. MSDs are manageable and can be preventable, so costs related to MSDs can be reduced. If someone does develop an MSD, taking simple measures — such as providing professional support and adjusting the work environment — as soon as the symptoms appear significantly lowers the chance of long-term absence from work.
Such prevention and early intervention measures can reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and lead to real savings for businesses, as well as national healthcare and social welfare systems. The Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load campaign provides evidence and examples of this, and links to resources that can help businesses make tackling MSDs part of everyday OSH management.