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Summary of HSE Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders Statistics 2022

The 2022 HSE Report reveals that work-related musculoskeletal disorders affected 477,000 workers in Great Britain, leading to 7.3 million lost workdays in 2021/22. These disorders, comprising 27% of all work-related ill-health cases, were prevalent in agriculture, construction, and health sectors. The most affected groups were skilled trades and older workers (45+), with the pandemic contributing to 72,000 cases. Key causes include manual handling and repetitive actions. The report underscores the urgent need for better workplace ergonomics and preventive measures.

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Executive Summary of HSE Report 2022: Key Findings on Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders

This blog post provides a summary of the key findings from the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) report on work-related musculoskeletal disorders in Great Britain till March 2022. The report contains several essential statistics that help understand the significant impact of these disorders on the working population.

477,000 Workers Suffered From Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in 2021/22

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), an estimated 477,000 workers were affected by new or pre-existing work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the year 2021/22 (HSE Report, p.4). The disorders most commonly affected the upper limbs or neck (175,000 cases), the back (202,000 cases), and lower limbs (99,000 cases)

7.3 Million Working Days Lost Due to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders in 2021/22

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders resulted in a loss of 7.3 million working days in the same year, with an average of 15.2 days lost per case (HSE Report, p.4). This loss significantly impacts the productivity level and overall economy.

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Account For 27% Of All Work-Related Ill-Health Cases

In 2021/22, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 27% of all work-related ill health cases and 24% of all working days lost due to work-related ill health (HSE Report, p.4). This stat shows the significant burden these disorders put on the health of the workforce.

High Prevalence in Specific Industries

The musculoskeletal disorders were most prevalent in Agriculture, forestry and fishing, Construction, and Human health and social work activities, as per the data averaged from 2019/20-2021/22 (HSE Report, p.9). These industries demand strenuous physical efforts, leading to a higher risk.

Occupations with Higher Rates of Musculoskeletal Disorders

From 2017/18-2019/20, skilled trades occupations, caring, leisure, and other service occupations, and process, plant, and machine operatives reported higher rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (HSE Report, p.10).

Workers Aged 45+ Report Higher Rates

The data also revealed that both male and female workers aged 45+ have significantly higher rates of work-related musculoskeletal disorders compared to the entire working population (HSE Report, p.13).

No Significant Difference in Workplace Size

There wasn't a significant difference in the prevalence of the disorder based on workplace size - small, medium, or large (HSE Report, p.13). It indicates that the risk is widespread across different types of businesses.

72,000 Cases Associated with COVID-19 Pandemic

An estimated 72,000 workers believed their work-related musculoskeletal disorders were caused or worsened by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic (HSE Report, p.14).

Main Causes of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Manual handling, working in awkward or tiring positions, and repetitive action or keyboard work were the main factors contributing to these disorders based on the Labour Force Survey 2009/10-2011/12 and the THOR-GP 2013-2015 (HSE Report, p.14).

In conclusion, the HSE's report underlines the seriousness of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and the toll they take on millions of workers across different disciplines. A combination of improved workplace ergonomics, awareness campaigns, early detection, and effective intervention strategies is necessary to reverse this worrying trend.


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Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

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