Legislation covering MSDs
There are several pieces of legislation relating to musculoskeletal disorders, which attach responsibilities to both employers and employees. The main legal responsibility for employers is to protect the health and safety of their employees and other people who might be affected by what they do, as required by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Some health and safety regulations are particularly relevant to dealing with musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace (the main ones are listed below). However, if you work within specific industries there may be additional legislation you may have to take into account. More information on sector-specific legislation can be found at MSD guidance and research.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Regulation 3 requires that all employers assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees while they are at work.
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) (MHOR)
MHOR requires an employer to carry out a risk assessment on all manual handling tasks that pose an injury risk. The employer's duty is to avoid manual handling as far as reasonably practicable if there is a possibility of injury. If this cannot be done then they must take steps to reduce the risk of injury as far as reasonably practicable.
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended (DSE Regulations)
Some users of visual display units (VDUs) or display screen equipment (DSE) may get aches and pains, such as back pain or eye discomfort. The Regulations set out what employers need to do if their employees are habitual users of DSE, including:
- analyse workstations to assess and reduce risks
- ensure workstations meet specified minimum requirements
- plan work activities to include breaks or changes of activity
- provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and special spectacles if needed
- provide information and training
- Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
Regular long-term exposure to whole-body vibration (WBV) is associated with back pain. The Regulations require employers to take action to protect people against risk arising from exposure to vibration at work. More information can be found on HSE's vibration website.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992
These Regulations cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues. They apply to most workplaces (with the exception of those involving construction works on construction sites, those in or on ships, or those below ground at a mine). They were amended by the Quarries Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002, the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
These Regulations require risks to people's health and safety, from equipment that they use at work, to be assessed, prevented or controlled.
In addition to the requirements of PUWER, lifting equipment is also subject to the requirements of the:
- Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998
These Regulations require that equipment provided for use at work is:
- suitable for the intended use
- safe for use
- maintained in a safe condition and, where required, inspected to ensure this remains the case
- used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training
- accompanied by suitable safety measures, e.g. protective devices, markings and warnings
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992
These Regulations came into force on 1 January 1993 but have been amended by the Police (Health and Safety) Regulations 1999, the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002 and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999. The Regulations are made under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and apply to all workplaces in Britain. They are based on European Community (EC) Directive 89/656/EEC which requires similar basic laws throughout the Community on the use of PPE in the workplace. The guidance sets out the main steps required to comply with the Regulations.