Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)


Musculoskeletal-Disorders-in-the-WorkplaceAccording to Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, the following occupations have high risk for MSDs;

  • Registered nurses, nursing assistants and psychiatric aides
  • Firefighters and prevention workers
  • Laborers and freight, stock and material movers
  • Janitors and cleaners
  • Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers
  • Refuse and recyclable material collectors
  • Stock clerks and order fillers
  • Maids and housekeeping cleaners
  • Light truck or delivery services drivers
  • Telecommunications line installers and repairers
  • Bus drivers, transit and intercity
  • Production workers
  • Police and sheriff patrol officers
  • Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
  • Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters
  • Maintenance and repair workers, general.

If you engage in one of the above occupations, there is a likelihood you have experienced pains in your musculoskeletal system that causes great discomfort either at work or during rest. The pains are results of musculoskeletal disorders. Knowing about them and common causes can help prevent them.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are painful disorders of the musculoskeletal system, it results in injuries that affects the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels and other parts of the body. It is important to know that all parts of the body can be affected with the upper limb and back as the most common areas that are affected.

MSDs affect the human body movements; at work or home, different movements of the body are made from movements such as bending, turning, tightening, holding, twisting, clenching, squatting, standing, kneeling and many other possible body movements, the movements do not become harmful until they are done repetitively with the involvement of forces this causes fatigues and when the process of rest and recovery doesn’t equate the fatigue or becomes less, such leads to imbalance in the musculoskeletal system of the individual.

Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs are common problems that many experience at their workplaces. Some MSDs are caused by accidents but are treated separately from Work-related musculoskeletal disorders that are mainly caused by overuse of the musculoskeletal systems or by repetitive motion or stress.

Common MSDs include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Muscle / Tendon strain
  • Ligament Sprain
  • Tension Neck Syndrome
  • Thoracic Outlet Compression
  • Tendonitis
  • Epicondylitis
  • Radial Tunnel Syndrome
  • Digital Neuritis
  • Trigger Finger / Thumb
  • DeQuervain’s Syndrome
  • Mechanical Back Syndrome
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Ruptured / Herniated Disc,

and many more.

There are different factors that could be responsible for this; this can either be ergonomic risk factors or individual-related risk factors.

Common risk factors:

  • Repetitive motion
  • Repetitive stress
  • Sustained or repetitive Awkward postures
  • Excessive force
  • Exposure to vibration
  • Little or no rest for recovery
  • Painful/ tiring positions
  • Carrying or moving heavy loads
  • Fast-paced work
  • Prolonged sitting or standing in a position

Musculoskeletal Disorders can be prevented and should be prevented to reduce lost time during process of work and improve the health of workers, this in turn reducing the amount of money diverted to attend to the disorders.

  • Risk assessment should be done to identify hazards and specifying control measures.
  • The person should be fitted to the job and not the other way
  • Workplace layout should be redesigned
  • Tasks process should be readjusted
  • Workers should get enough rest at intervals to enable efficient recovery

Workers need to be trained also, so training should be provided, this ensures that workers are aware of ergonomics and understand its ergonomic and other risk factors of MSDs and how to work safely always.


Chinedu is passionate about occupational safety and health. He keeps following trends in industrial safety. Chinedu currently lives in Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria.

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