All individuals are different and some people may be more likely to
develop musculoskeletal problems. Individual differences also make some
people more reluctant to report musculoskeletal problems. Some factors
may increase the risk of developing symptoms and these should be considered
when designing a management programme. These factors include:
- difference in competence or skills;
- new employees may need time to acquire the necessary work skills;
- workers of varying body sizes, i.e. height, reach etc. This can
lead to adopting poor postures when lifting or lowering objects;
- vulnerable groups, e.g. older workers and new
or expectant mothers;
- health status and disability;
- individual attitudes or characteristics that may affect compliance
with safe working practices or reporting of symptoms.
What can I do to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury when considering
All tasks should be designed so that they can be undertaken without
the risk of musculoskeletal injury. There is no valid scientific screening
test, which can predict the future development of musculoskeletal problems
in particular individuals. Job placement should take account of the
risk assessment, job requirements and the possible individual differences
outlined in the previous section.
In particular, consider the needs of new employees, particularly young
workers, and those returning to work from a holiday, sickness or injury.
All these may need to start or resume work at a slower rate than the
existing ‘workforce', followed by a gradual increase in
pace. Regulation 12 in the Management of Health and Safety Regulations
1999 details requirements concerning new employees. Introducing newcomers
at a slower pace will help them to develop good working practices and
take in the training more effectively before they have to concentrate
on working at a normal rate.