Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect the muscles, nerves and tendons. Work related MSDs (including those of the neck, upper extremities and low back) are one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness. Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for MSDs increases a worker’s risk of injury.
But work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics — fitting a job to a person — helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.
Work related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.
- In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that industries with the highest MSD* rates include health care, transportation and warehousing, retail and wholesale trade and construction.
- According to BLS, the 387,820 MSD cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases in 2011.