Dealing with existing ULDs
It may not be possible to prevent all cases of upper limb disorders (ULDs) but there are things you can do to help prevent symptoms occurring or getting worse whether they are caused by work or only aggravated by work activities.
If you find that there are risks of ULDs in your workplace it is worthwhile to have systems in place to actively collect early reports of any symptoms workers may be suffering. These systems are often referred to as health monitoring. There is no legal requirement to perform health monitoring but it is a useful way to feed back and inform your risk assessment and ensure any controls you have put in place are working to prevent or alleviate problems.The pages on monitoring and reviewing give examples of sources of information you can use for health monitoring.
- Encourage workers to report any signs and symptoms early before they become too serious. Once you have an overview of whether or not your workers are reporting upper limb symptoms you can then look for any emerging patterns among groups of workers or with certain tasks and take action to minimise risk.
- You may need to call in expert advice to determine this and on how to adapt the work tasks, organisation or environment to reduce the risk.
- Feedback from health monitoring systems may also highlight individuals who are particularly vulnerable to ULD problems who may need specific help.
Occupational health provision or medical support/referral
You may have access to occupational health to which workers could be referred for help and advice with their symptoms. Occupational health provision is valuable for advising on management of cases.
People with ULDs usually completely recover if the problem is recognised early and treated appropriately.
Points to consider:
- ULD problems can be specific to an individual - each person is different and will need to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
- If a task is causing or contributing to a ULD, the worker may need to stop doing that task for a time. Temporary modified duties could aid recovery.
- Return-to-work plans need to be agreed by all those involved and actively reviewed. If the worker with a ULD has been off work, it is possible to return before all the symptoms have cleared up totally, provided that there isn't medical advice to the contrary.
- You will need to have systems in place to help workers to return to work. There is further information on HSE's Managing sickness absence webpages.
- Manual handling at work: A brief guide
- Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace
- Manual handling assessment charts
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool
- Making the best use of lifting and handling aids