The Prevalence, Causes and Prevention of Occupational Musculoskeletal Disorders
Kuok Ho Daniel Tang
Glob Acad J Med Sci, 2022; 4(2): 56-68
DOI : 10.36348/gajms.2022.v04i02.004
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are collectively referring to an array of conditions affecting the human locomotor system, such as muscles, nerves, joints, tendons and spinal discs. MSDs related to work are called occupational MSDs and are typically caused by physical factors consisting of repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, awkward positions, vibration due to use of vibrational tools and prolonged staying in the same positions. These physical factors are often complicated by psychosocial factors comprising job demand, job control, social support, job satisfaction, job security, work arrangement, etc. which can aggravate the biomechanical loading imposed by physical factors, thus resulting in more severe outcomes. Besides, individual factors such as health conditions, age, education level and medical history could lead to highly variable physiological responses and internal tolerances, hence outcomes. As the physical and psychosocial risk factors vary widely in different workplaces, the prevalence of MSDs tends to vary with sectors, occupations and even regions. Generally, healthcare sector has been reported to have relatively high occupational MSDs cases in multiple nations. To prevent occupational MSDs, priority should be given to elimination of the associated risks through job and workplace designs and management. Where elimination is not practical, the risks could be reduced through modification of workplace layout, work environment, work systems and tools as well as the use of mechanical aids. Provision of information, instruction and training, and other administrative controls such as job rotation which do not target at reducing the risks would have lower priority and should be used together with other control measures of higher priority.