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Work-related musculoskeletal disorders : back to work report

Author: Pinder, A. · Yeomans, L. · Heuvel, S. van den · Blatter, B. · Verjans, M. · Muylaert, K. · Broeck, · Buffet, M.A. · Nevala, N.
Publisher: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Institution: TNO Kwaliteit van Leven
Identifier: 275127
ISBN: 978-92-9191-160-8
Keywords: Workplace · Beroepsrehabilitatie · Veilig en Gezond Werken · Rugklachten · Hernia · Reintegratie · Arbeidsgehandicapten · EEG · EGKS · Euratom · Europese gemeenschappen · Therapie · Attitude · Gedrag · Bewegingsstoornissen · Handen · Armen · Spieraandoeningen


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are impairments of bodily structures, such as muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments, nerves or the localised blood circulation system. MSDs can interfere with activities at work, and can cause an increase in sickness absence, and chronic occupational disability. The aim of this report is to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions in the workplace, and to provide an overview of policy initiatives in the EU regarding the retention, reintegration and rehabilitation of workers with MSDs. The main findings are presented with respect to backpain, upper and lower limb pain. Although many studies have been carried out, the evidence for the effectiveness of interventions is somewhat limited — in particular regarding interventions for upper limb symptoms. However, criteria for evidence are derived from the evaluation of medical treatment, and it has been suggested that they are not appropriate, considering the complexity of workplace interventions. In spite of the lack of strong scientific evidence, anecdotally many of these workplace interventions are reported as being effective. Most of the Member States’ policies focus on integrating into the workforce people with disabilities who are not currently employed, rather than retaining, reintegrating and rehabilitating workers with MSDs. Examples of the advantages and disadvantages of the existing reintegration and rehabilitation policies after illness or accident are given.