A proposal from the European Commission to simplify legislation relating to musculoskeletal disorders recommends that psychosocial factors such as stress and work pressure should be included in risk assessments. Jon Abbott, managing director – ergonomics and safety at Cardinus thinks this is a good idea.

A proposal from the European Commission to simplify legislation relating to musculoskeletal disorders recommends that psychosocial factors such as stress and work pressure should be included in risk assessments. Jon Abbott, managing director – ergonomics and safety at Cardinus thinks this is a good idea.

Ergonomics is a discipline that considers three main factors: tasks, environment and people. In considering people’s ability to carry out a task safely and efficiently, psychological and social factors need to be examined. Any individual suffering psychological or social pressure will have their ability to perform affected.

The aim of the EU proposal is to simplify legislation and would combine the current directives on manual handling and display screen equipment and add the psychosocial factors to create a new Musculoskeletal Disorders Directive.

Research into the links between psychosocial factors and work-related injuries has been going on since the 1970s and the evidence is widely accepted. Back in 2007 psychologist and Cardinus consultant Rick Spencer compiled a 20-page report on this evidence. Rick’s report confirms that many specialists, experts and academics have found links between stress and physical injuries and ill-health. Examples range from overwork, poor working practices and the build-up of tension, through to the reluctance to report injuries.

Stress levels among workers have continued to rise. Economic effects, such as lack of job security and increased workload could see stress at an all-time high. That’s why we feel that the EU proposal to consider work-related stress, or ‘wellness’, as part of an ergonomic risk assessment is a good idea. Cardinus believes that the clear links between stress and the physical symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) mean that they can all be managed effectively through ergonomic risk management.

Increased levels of stress among workers will inflict lasting damage on companies’ productivity and reputation. Reduced staffing levels leading to greater pressures on remaining staff and a lack of job security has resulted in one in four workers experiencing more stress now than a year ago. These findings come from a poll conducted by Electoral Form Research.

Given the clear evidence showing how ergonomic risk management can help improve productivity through reduced absenteeism, fewer work-related injuries and improved staff health, well-being and morale, the benefits of including psychosocial factors in ergonomic assessments are obvious.

As leaders in the field of ergonomics risk management Cardinus are offering one licence of our, IIRSM-endorsed, Managing Stress at Work e-learning programme with each purchased licence of Workstation Safety Plus.

As an award-winning ergonomics e-learning and self-assessment programme Workstation Safety Plus is used by many of the worlds leading organisations to mitigate risk and reduce lost time productivity.

For more details please telephone 0207 469 0200, email info@cardinus.com or visit www.cardinus.com.

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