MSDs: Health monitoring and support for workers

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include injuries and conditions that can affect the back, joints and limbs. They can be caused or made worse by work. Where there are risks of musculoskeletal disorders in your workplace, you can choose to do health monitoring.

Health monitoring

This collects early reports of any symptoms workers may have. In law, you do not have to do health monitoring. But it is often useful to collect this information so that you are aware of any health issues your workers have and to monitor trends.

It can be helpful when you introduce a new task or change an existing process. It also helps to check any controls you put in place are preventing problems starting or getting worse.

You may need to take advice, for example from an occupational health provider, about setting up and managing your health monitoring system.

If you decide to do health monitoring you should:

For smaller workforces, a simple discussion (such as a toolbox talk) may help identify any issues.

Reviewing and interpreting the results

The results of your health monitoring can help you look at whether your risk management system for MSDs is working.

You may identify susceptible people. You may need to take occupational health advice on how to restrict or modify their work. Look for patterns of MSDs among groups of workers or with certain tasks and review your risk assessments.

Consider if:

Support workers with MSDs in your workforce

People with MSDs usually recover completely if the problem is spotted early and treated appropriately. But there is an increased risk of their problem coming back, even if the symptoms have gone. As well as health monitoring, there are other things you can do to manage these conditions:

Consider each person on a case-by-case basis. It may be necessary to change a worker's duties if a task is causing an MSD or making it worse. They may need to stop doing some tasks temporarily to help them recover. Sometimes they may not be able to return to a particular task.

You can contact: