Musculoskeletal injuries are a common workplace challenge for employers and employees. Whether they happen at work, or affect an individual’s ability to do their job, injuries are a risk everyone is keen to avoid. In this article, we explore how to prevent musculoskeletal injuries at work.

Are you an employer? Hussle now offer flexible, discounted access to our fitness venues as an employee benefit. Learn more.

What are the common causes of musculoskeletal injuries at work?

Musculoskeletal injuries affect the joints, bones, and muscle tissue and include back pain, RSI, strains, and sprains. According to the Health and Safety Executive, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 27% of all work-related cases of ill health in 2020-2021.

Lots of factors in the workplace can cause or contribute to musculoskeletal injuries, including poor workstation set up, repetitive movements, poor posture, lifting objects incorrectly, and long periods of sitting or standing.

Nobody wants to incur an injury, but the impact goes beyond discomfort. Musculoskeletal injuries can impact mental wellbeing, lead to reduced mobility, and contribute to long-term disability. For employers, this can mean risks of increased absenteeism and healthcare costs, and decreased employee morale.

The role of physical fitness in reducing musculoskeletal injuries

There are so many benefits to encouraging fitness in the workplace, including reducing musculoskeletal injuries. People who engage in regular activity tend to be stronger and more flexible, and to have better proprioception – the body’s awareness of how to move well.

Introducing opportunities to move more throughout the work day will really help your workforce to stay on top of their physical fitness. This could mean offering fitness as a benefit (for example, discounted gym membership). But it shouldn’t stop there. You should also consider ways to encourage and promote activity during the working day, through incentives, schemes, and peer group activities.

How can fitness in the workplace prevent musculoskeletal injuries at work

Physical fitness plays a big role in preventing musculoskeletal issues and speeding up recovery from injury. Physical exercise strengthens muscles, improves flexibility, and helps reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases. Think about how to prevent musculoskeletal injuries by encouraging your colleagues to engage in a variety of physical activities. In an ideal world, they should do some cardiovascular exercises (for the heart, muscles, and joints), flexibility exercises, and strength or resistance training.

How to prevent musculoskeletal injuries at work through workplace training

Proper workplace training can prevent or reduce instances of musculoskeletal injuries by giving your employees the skills and knowledge to perform tasks safely. This could include manual handling training, ergonomic assessments and adjustments, or education around regular stretching and activity breaks.

Make sure your workplace training and education is tailored to the type of work your people do, and also to their location, equipment, and work schedules.

How to prevent musculoskeletal injuries with an active lifestyle

It’s important to give your employees plenty of opportunities to engage in physical fitness at work, but perhaps you can also encourage a healthier lifestyle outside of the workplace?

One of the best ways to do this is to offer fitness as an employee benefit. Make sure it’s flexible enough to be truly useful to your workforce. On-site gyms or single-access gym memberships often fail to meet the needs of shift workers, those who work from home, or people who travel for work. Offer discounted gym membership that gives people access to a network of gyms and fitness centres around the country.

7 ways employers gain from investing into employee physical fitness

  1. Reduced healthcare costs associated with musculoskeletal injuries
  2. Increased productivity and morale amongst the workforce
  3. Reduced absenteeism, long-term sick leave, and early retirement
  4. Healthier outcomes for an ageing workforce
  5. Retention of older and more experienced employees
  6. Improved morale amongst teams
  7. Better reputation as a great place to work

How to measure ROI on offering fitness benefits to employees

Investing in employee physical fitness will inevitably have a positive impact on the number and severity of musculoskeletal injuries in your workforce. But such investment also has a measurable ROI for employers.

Encouraging and promoting fitness in the workplace will help staff members be physically fitter, better able to manage stress, and reduce their risks of serious health issues. Employees who engage in regular physical activity tend to be more alert, focused, creative, and resilient.

Investing in your employees’ physical fitness will also increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and prevent loss of valuable staff members to long-term sick leave or early retirement. And ultimately, it demonstrates your commitment to employee wellbeing, which is great for recruitment, retention, and company image.