What the Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Pain Means for Employers
As if work safety challenges weren’t stark enough already, another major issue is bubbling right beneath the surface. New data shows that half of all people experience back, neck, shoulder, or other musculoskeletal pain in any given year. What does the prevalence of musculoskeletal (MSK) pain mean for employers?
The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain around the world
It means another potential source of worker safety complaint.
Indeed, one in two sufferers of MSK pain, according to the State of MSK Report, which sources its data from the CDC as well as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), represents over 252-million American adults.
The numbers aren’t much better across the world. In Europe, the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders was approximately 6,510 per 100,000 females and 5,123 per 100,000 males in 2019. The overall incidence of musculoskeletal disorders there, consistently higher among females, there has been increasing since 1990, according to data published in Statista.
Not to be outdone, almost one in three Australians (approximately 30 per cent) have at least one musculoskeletal condition. Back pain and related problems are the most common musculoskeletal condition, affecting 16 per cent of the population, followed by osteoarthritis (9 per cent) and other forms of arthritis (5.3 per cent). That is according to Government research on musculoskeletal conditions and comorbidity in Australia.
The economic toll of musculoskeletal pain
Why does it matter? Besides being potentially debilitating, musculoskeletal pain isn’t costless.
In fact, the economic cost of MSK medical claims has doubled in the U.S. over the last decade.
What’s more, MSK care itself remains one of the top three cost drivers in the U.S. health system, commanding up to one-sixth of employer-sponsored plan dollars and costing $600 billion.
The costs are so high because afflicted workers with MSK pain missed 8.2 days of work. For context: that’s more than double the average workers’ sick days; and workers who experience the double-whammy of MSK pain and mental health needs, the figure jumps up to 13 days.
How employers can address the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among their workers
What is it then that employers can do, to avoid the productivity and (potential) compliance hit? They can establish a wellbeing management program that addresses the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain among their workers.
Such a program would likely entail scheduling regular ergonomic assessments for staff, whether those employees are in the office, working from home, or consistently on the road.
Here, digital wellbeing management software will come in handy. These platforms have the tools manage the risks associated with MSK pain, by scheduling periodic ergonomic assessments, then assigning those assessments to personnel, and having them reviewed by management.
What else? The platforms also have the following capabilities
- Share information with personnel about how they can consistently improve their ergonomic arrangements
- Include approval steps in your assessment process to have someone check and approve the assessment
- Increase productivity by enabling personnel to build a workspace that supports wellbeing at home and in office
- Schedule assessment follow-ups that automatically create an ergonomic assessment task for personnel
- Use real-time analytics to track completion of assessments and understand the risk factors identified
Of course, the platforms aren’t single-use solutions. To learn more about what a well-rounded wellbeing management solution can do for your company, download our Wellbeing Management Guide.