Musculoskeletal Health

Businesses can help staff avoid musculoskeletal conditions

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is urging local businesses to promote the advantages of healthy lifestyles, in particular healthy weight management and physical activity, to stem the rising incidents of musculoskeletal conditions (MSK) in the county.

Earlier in the year, Suffolk Chamber teamed up with Public Health Suffolk to improve how businesses support their staff. The Chamber has set up an online resource (https://www.suffolkchamber.co.uk/initiatives/improving-workplace-health/) on its website aimed at providing Suffolk organisations with a definitive list of issues which affect health and wellbeing and the support available to help address them.

Underpinning this campaign is Public Health Suffolk’s Five Ways to Wellbeing https://www.healthysuffolk.org.uk/projects/5-ways-to-wellbeing which provides general ideas as to how we can all boost our mental and physical strength. 

In May the campaign focusses upon musculoskeletal conditions which as well as causing pain can impact on a person’s ease of movement, flexibility and strength.

The term musculoskeletal conditions (MSK) covers a range of over 200 conditions affecting joints, bones, muscles and soft tissues. These can be grouped into four categories:

  • Painful conditions (e.g. osteoarthritis, back pain)
  • Inflammatory conditions (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Osteoporosis, including osteoporotic fractures
  • Trauma (e.g. fractures, soft-tissue injuries)

Estimates suggest that the projected numbers of prevalent cases of musculoskeletal conditions in Suffolk will grow from 202,389 in 2016, to 221,128 in 2026, and continue growing, to 240,106 in 2039.

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber said “MSK is more than just a pain to the individuals concerned. It’s a pain to businesses in terms of lost working days and society as a whole in terms of higher health care costs.

“Although the growth in MSK cases in the county partly reflects the ageing population, some conditions such as lower back pain, poor weight management and a lack of physical activity are encountered among younger parts of the population.

“Businesses do have a role to play in helping staff address such issues. Ultimately it’s in their own self-interest as a healthier workforce is less likely to be an absent one.”

Abdul Razaq director of Public Health Suffolk added ““we have a duty of care to ensure that our workforce remains healthy, fit and pain-free for as long as possible. Most health conditions are amenable to positive change, and are not inevitable as we age, but we all need to be joined up in our self-awareness and adaptable in our daily routines.

“These issues can have a major impact on personal wellbeing and organisational effectiveness, so it’s important that employers provide support programmes and advice to help staff to be physically and mentally well at work. There are health resources available to help businesses to promote good musculoskeletal health and healthy ageing, which we are making available to all employers through our Five Ways to Wellbeing campaign.”

Suffolk Chamber and Public Health Suffolk are encouraging Suffolk businesses to share their answers on their social media channels to the question: “How can you help your staff avoid MSK?” by using the hashtag #HealthyWorkplaces.

Suffolk Chamber is promoting a directory of MSK resources to help inform and encourage businesses to boost awareness of MSK to their staff here.