Staggering new stats point to huge workplace absenteeism due to injuries

Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WRMSDs) are a slightly complicated way of saying ‘work related pain and injuries’.

They are a huge problem and have a huge impact on both productivity of an organisation and also on the wellbeing, physical and mental, of staff.

At its most simple, it stands to reason that someone who is spending their days in pain and distracted by, for example, back pain, that they won’t be performing at the optimum. From the individual’s point of view, they are less likely to enjoy their work and the physical discomfort is likely to extend beyond the workplace and will affect their personal life too.

A new report from the Health and Safety Executive has outlined the extent of the problem, and drawn together statistics that show exactly how badly work-related injuries affect employers, by increasing sick leave and reducing productivity.

The report, which covers the financial year 2014-15, claims that, for those 12 months alone, an estimated 9.5million working days were lost in Britain as a result of WRMSDs.

It claims that there are fewer working days lost than at the turn of the Millennium, but that little improvement has been made to the figures in the past five years. The report also cites our ageing working population as a cause for concern, as the likelihood of being affected by a WRMSD statistically increases with age.

Other interesting figures that stand out include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders represent 44% of all work-related illnesses in the UK.
  • The average working days lost were 17 per case – which underlines the costliness of each injury.
  • There were 553,000 reported work-related musculoskeletal injuries in the UK in 2014-15.

The problem needs to be tackled from two angles:

  • Measures need to be taken to prevent work-related injuries. This means everything from watertight health and safety practices to avoid injuries caused by impacts and falls, for example. It also means preventative measures such as looking at seating positions and telephone use to ensure injuries associated with posture or repetitive actions do not arise.
  • Virtually all musculoskeletal injuries and issues can be treated and corrected. A good physiotherapist will, of course, be able to offer therapy to ease the symptoms. However, they should also be able to look at the causes of the injuries and advise ways in which the patient can change their behaviour to ensure the injury doesn’t come back.

In cases where an employer offers health insurance, physiotherapy treatment is often covered by these policies – and it is in everyone’s best interests to make sure this is both offered and used. Health insurance need not just be for serious illnesses – they are put in place by employers who want to keep their staff working well and happy.

If you have health insurance and are suffering with an injury, then you need not suffer: you’ll be amazed how much better you feel when you are free of the pain that you had just been living with.

Or, if you are an employer that currently doesn’t offer health insurance as a perk, it may be worth considering. It’s a benefit that staff value, and, for all the reasons outlined above, could make a significant difference to absenteeism and productivity.

Newcastle Sports Injury Clinic runs a range of health and wellbeing initiatives aimed at improving employee health. Our classes such as Pilates, yoga, Tai Chi, are just a few examples, and they are immensely popular – and growing in popularity all the time. We will be blogging again soon about the health benefits – and the benefits to employers – that these can have, so watch this space.