Good Practices to help cut Workplace Illness for Millions
organisations have been honoured with a European Good Practice Award for
helping to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – the most common
form of work-related illness in Europe. Across the EU, 25% of workers
complain of backache and 23% report muscular pains. The winners were
announced at the closing event of the ‘Lighten the Load’ campaign,
organised by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).
The Agency also presented a new report setting out the latest scientific
evidence on the issue.
disorders are the number one workplace illness in Europe, affecting
millions of workers and costing the economy up to 1.6% of GDP. We can no
longer afford to waste Europe's potential and have to "lighten the
load" on all workers suffering from MSD,” said Vladimír Špidla,
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.
“This campaign has helped to raise awareness of this huge issue and the
good practices will help us prevent future suffering.”
‘Lighten the Load’ campaign aimed to promote an integrated approach to
tackling MSDs while also helping workers affected by them continue in
work. It complements the EU's new strategy for health and safety at work
(2007–2012) which targets occupational ill health and aims to cut by a
quarter work-related accidents across the EU.
Cotman, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs representing the
Slovenian EU Presidency, added: “The recent campaign has focused on the
promotion of a comprehensive approach to addressing the issue of
musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), covering both prevention and efforts to
enable workers affected by these diseases to stay in companies and to take
care of the rehabilitation of these workers and their reintegration into
the work environment. We firmly believe that this year’s European
campaign has contributed to improving the work environment of the European
worker, making it better, less stressful and healthier, and that the joint
European campaign will contribute to reducing the levels of work-related
injury and professional disease.”
Takala, Director of EU-OSHA, pointed out that the Agency’s ‘Prevention
Report’ gives many clues about how to tackle MSDs at the workplace.
“It suggests, for example, that the introduction of additional breaks
into repetitive work will significantly decrease MSDs and may be
achievable without loss of productivity. It also emphasizes that only a
multidisciplinary approach – including organisational, technical and
personal measures – will succeed in effectively preventing MSDs.
Workers, employers and occupational safety and health professionals must
work hand in hand.”
than 500 delegates, including European Union policy-makers, social
partners and leading safety and health experts, gathered at the Euskalduna
Conference Centre in Bilbao, Spain on 26 February. The summit was the
culmination of the ‘Lighten the Load’ campaign, which promoted an
integrated management approach to tackling MSDs, embracing prevention and
the retention, rehabilitation and reintegration of workers. In 2007,
several hundred events were organised by EU-OSHA, its focal point network
and other organisations across Europe.
the summit, the delegates attended three parallel workshops on statistics,
MSD prevention in the workplace and reintegration of workers with MSDs.
Afterwards, nine organisations from six EU Member States received the
European Good Practice Awards; an additional 11 entries were commended.
the winners were projects that
MSD problems experienced by handling heavy wooden pallets;
an ergonomically designed sewing workstation;
a load moving system to reduce manual handling in a greenhouse.