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Two thirds of MSK sufferers blame their job for their condition

An estimated 6.9 million working days are lost to MSK conditions

More than two-thirds (68%) of musculoskeletal (MSK) sufferers say their occupation has been a contributing factor to their condition, a survey shows.

The poll of 2,000 workers by Willis Towers Watson found a similar number (64%) claim their condition has been exacerbated by their job, while a third (33%) said their employer was aware of their condition but had failed to provide adequate support.

Mike Blake, wellbeing lead at Willis Towers Watson, said workplaces that promote good musculoskeletal health can play an important role in helping to alleviate the symptoms of MSK conditions and can even help to prevent their onset.

There has been a gradual decline in the rate of self-reported work-related MSK disorders, however the latest Labour Force Survey suggests this trend has slowed over recent years.

An estimated 6.9 million working days are still being lost to MSK conditions. 

6.9 million – the number of working days
lost to MSK conditions each year

Source: Willis Towers Watson

Although MSK disorders are more prevalent among older workers, employees aged 18 to 24 were found to be more likely than any other generation to claim their current occupation had contributed to their condition.

Younger workers were also more likely to say that they failed to receive adequate support from their employer, despite them being aware of their condition. 

“MSK conditions are traditionally associated with older workers, but companies should not forget that employees across all age demographics can be susceptible, impairing their mobility and quality of life,” warned Blake.

He added that with MSK conditions being the second biggest cause of employee sickness absence and with younger workers having many occupational years ahead of them, there is a strong business case for ensuring they receive the care and support they need. 

“Early diagnosis and treatment are extremely important, but many MSK conditions will develop over time with work-related causes including manual handling, lifting and repetitive actions such as keyboard work. Risk assessment can have a big preventative role to play here, helping identify potential problem areas and enabling employers to make practical workplace adjustments – from providing new equipment or improving office ergonomics to encouraging employees to move and stretch regularly,” he said.