What are ULDs?
Upper limb disorders (ULDs):
- are aches, pains, tension and disorders involving any part of the arm from fingers to shoulder, or the neck;
- include problems with the soft tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments, along with the circulatory and nerve supply to the limb; and
- are often caused or made worse by work
What are the symptoms?
Stiffness or pain from joints and inability to straighten or bend those joints. Aches and pains, tenderness, stiffness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp and swelling to muscles of the arms or the neck.
These symptoms may suggest overuse or damage to the limb or some underlying condition, if you are concerned please speak to your Doctor/GP.
What causes a ULD?
- Repetitive work
- Uncomfortable working postures
- Sustained or excessive force
- Carrying out a task for a long period of time
- Poor working environment and organisation (eg temperature, lighting and work pressure, job demands, work breaks or lack of them)
- Individual differences and susceptibility (some workers are more affected by certain risks)
The way the work is organised and managed can make a significant contribution to reducing the risk of ULDs as well as make them worse.
Workers may be more likely to suffer an upper limb problem if exposed to more than one risk factor.
These risk factors are described in more detail on the reducing and managing risk pages.
What if I have these risk factors in my workplace?
Just because a worker is exposed to these risk factors this does not necessarily mean they will end up with a ULD, or that the risks cannot be adequately controlled. For further information visit the ' how to reduce the risks' page.
More on dealing with ULDs
- 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