April is Stress Awareness Month, providing a helpful focus on the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions. Here we provide the bigger picture on addressing workplace stress and musculoskeletal disorders.
As the UK’s Health and Safety Executive says, work related stress can be the result of insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management. Clearly, organisations need to understand and manage this effectively.
Stress is ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures and demands placed on them’
40% of work related illness
440,000 workers in the UK have reported a stress related illness. That is 40% of all work related illness (source: Health and Safety Executive).
The relationship between MSDs and stress
Stress and musculoskeletal disorders are the two most common causes of work related ill health. Both conditions share common risk factors and they frequently occur together, having an influence on each other.
Broad psychosocial factors are significant, and include environmental factors, work practices, relationships, attitudes and behaviours. But how might stress influence MSDs?
If you need help, we can carry out independent assessments of individuals: please get in touch to request this service.
Various ways in which stress might influence MSDs have been proposed.
Stress impacts the musculoskeletal system by changing the way the body responds to physical demands, by affecting what the body can tolerate. So psychological stress may induce physiological stress and muscle tension.
Increased levels of stress may cause individuals to perform tasks differently (for instance excessive keying force when typing, or gripping the mouse), leading to a variation in biomechanical loading.
Stress may lead to changes in behavior and cognitive responses. For instance, increased symptom reporting, or variations in the experience of pain, impairment or disability.
Addressing stress and musculoskeletal disorders – how we can help.
At System Concepts we understand the complex relationship between psychological and physiological stress. We use this knowledge to understand and solve the problems we see during the workstation assessment process.
Our clients know that we won’t recommend expensive equipment and physical workstation changes when they are unnecessary. But we will encourage our clients to communicate with management and outside agencies, to deal positively with stress and musculoskeletal disorders.
We can help you address stress and musculoskeletal disorders