The Social Employers/EPSU Joint Webinar Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the Social Services Sector

On 21 September, the Social Employers and EPSU jointly hosted a webinar on preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the social services sector, highlighting that MSDs are preventable and manageable.

The webinar was held in the framework of the EU-OSHA campaign, Healthy Workplaces – Lighten the Load, which aims to raise awareness of MSDs in the social services sector and to provide concrete measures and practices to tackle them.

MSDs risks are prevalent in the social services and are likely to become a more pressing issue in the future, due to demographic change, the shift towards home care services, the high exposure to psychosocial risks and the increasing age of the social services workforce.

The speakers provided a holistic picture of MSDs in the social services sector, as well as tools, guides and methods created to tackle MSDs. Solveiga Eidukynaite-Gerard, Policy Analyst in the DG EMPL Unit “Health and safety at work, EU-OSHA”, presented the EU new strategic framework on health and safety at work in relation to the prevention of MSDs. This was followed by a presentation of Lorenzo Munar, Project Manager at EU-OSHA, who provided data on the impact of MSDs and information on the EU-OSHA campaign. Simone Mohrs from HOSPEEM and Adam Rogalewski from EPSU outlined measures to prevent MSDs in the hospital sector, providing examples that could also be applied to the social services sector. Finally, Nico Knibbe, Senior researcher at LOCOmotion, gave a concrete overview on the specific MSD risks in homecare and presented a tool to assess MSD risks in health and social care.

Key takeaways from the webinar:

  • MSDs are preventable and manageable. Regular risk assessment, taking an integrated approach, involving all stakeholders and promoting a culture of prevention are essential. Small and inexpensive changes in procedures can have a big impact.
  • Preventing MSDs is an investment in the sector’s future and attractiveness: better working conditions, higher retention rates, reducing costs linked to loss of productivity, sick leave and occupational diseases.
  • MSD prevention is a shared concern of employers and trade unions and needs to be addressed by social dialogue, at all levels.
  • Workforce training on MSDs risks and prevention must be an on-going process.
  • The EU OSHA website provides many tools and guidance to promote and manage MSDs prevention measures.

We will continue the dialogue on the topic, to further raise awareness on work-related MSDs in the social services sector and highlight effective measures for their prevention.