Musculoskeletal disorders

Do you suffer from sprains, strains and pains?

Manual handling is transporting or supporting loads by hand or using bodily force. Many people hurt their back, arms, hands or feet lifting everyday loads, not just when the load is too heavy. More than a third of all overthreeday injuries reported each year to HSE and to local authorities are the result of manual handling. These can result in those injured taking an average of 11 working days off each year.

‘Upper limbs’ refers to the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands and fingers. Upper limb disorders (sometimes called repetitive strain injury (RSI)) can happen in almost any workplace where people do repetitive, or forceful manual activities in awkward postures, for prolonged periods of time. These can cause muscular aches and pains, which may initially be temporary, but if such work is not properly managed, and the early symptoms are not recognised and treated, can progress to a chronic and disabling disorder. Cumulative damage can build up over time causing pain and discomfort in people’s backs, arms, hands and legs. Most cases can be avoided by providing suitable lifting equipment that is regularly maintained, together with relevant training on both manual handling and using the equipment safely

Does your work include strenuous lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reachingor repetitive handling?
Do you have repetitive finger, hand or arm movements which are frequent,forceful or awkward?
Does your work involve twisting, squeezing, hammering or pounding?

What law applies?

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended)
Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Display screen equipment

Do you use computers or other display screen equipment?

Using a computer or other kinds of display screen equipment (visual display units) can give rise to back problems, repetitive strain injury, or other musculoskeletal disorders. These health problems may become serious if no action is taken. Theycan be caused by poor design of workstations (and associated equipment such as chairs), insufficient space, lack of training or not taking breaks from display screen work. Work with a screen does not cause eye damage, but many users experience temporary eye strain or stress. This can lead to reduced work efficiency or taking time off work.

Is there regular use of display screens as a significant part of the work?
Does anyone use a keyboard, mouse or other input device?
Are people complaining of discomfort, aches and pains?

What law applies?

Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (as amended)


Is your workplace noisy?

High levels of noise at work can cause hearing damage. A little damage happens every time it is noisy, gradually adding up to serious harm. Young people can be damaged as easily as the old. Sufferers often first start to notice hearing loss when they cannot keep up with conversations in a group, or when the rest of their family complains they have the television on too loud. Deafness can make people feel isolated from their family, friends and colleagues.

Are there times when the workplace is so noisy that people have to shout to each other at normal speaking distance to make themselves heard? If so, there is likely to be a danger to hearing.
Are noisy powered tools or machinery in use for at least part of the day?
Are there noisy bangs from hammering, explosive or impact tools, or guns?
Are there areas where noise could interfere with warning and danger signals?

What law applies?

Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005


Are you exposed to vibration?

Vibration from work with powered handheld tools, equipment or processes can damage the hands and arms of users causing ‘handarm vibration syndrome’. This is a painful, irreversible condition which includes ‘vibration white finger’ and the effects can be impaired blood circulation, damage to the nerves and muscles, and loss of ability to grip properly. Back pain can be caused by or aggravated by vibration from a vehicle or machine passing through the seat into the driver’s body through the buttocks – known as wholebody vibration. Wholebody vibration can also be caused by standing on the platform of a vehicle or machine, so vibration passes into the operator through their feet.

Does anyone work with handheld and handguided tools and machines such as concrete breakers and vibrating compactor plates and workpieces such as castings which are held against powered machinery such as pedestal grinders?
Does anyone doing this work get tingling or numbness in the fingers or hands?
Does anyone often drive offroad machinery such as tractors, dumper trucks or excavators or unsuspended vehicles such as forklift trucks?

What law applies?

Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005