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Prevention makes us stronger – including our backs!

Information on the Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) work programme developed by the Joint German Occupational Safety and Health Strategy

According to the Robert Koch Institute, four out of five Germans suffer from musculoskeletal disorders at least once in their lives. In most cases, the pain is caused by cramped or tense muscles; in other words, pain is not caused by age-related wear or injuries to the spine but by incorrect, too much or too little strain; muscles that are not sufficiently exercised; stress; mental stress; and/or too little physical activity. The same applies to other muscle and joint pain.

Disorders of the musculoskeletal system cause affected persons pain; they also put a strain on the workplace: around 27 percent of working days lost due to sick leave can be traced back to musculoskeletal disorders.

Work programme objectives

This is precisely where the Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) work programme comes into play. The programme aims to ensure that stakeholders within the companies are fully informed and qualified, including entrepreneurs, managers, staff representatives as well as the persons responsible for occupational health and safety, and to thus reduce work-related musculoskeletal health risks and disorders. To achieve this goal, the programme focuses its activities on areas with a particularly high risk of MSD: risk-related tasks such as lifting and carrying heavy loads, repetitive work sequences and lack of exercise.

On-site inspections and consultation

Since autumn 2014, inspectors with the occupational health and safety authorities and accident insurance institutions have conducted coordinated site inspections. In the course of these, inspectors provide companies with information and recommendations to support and advise them on how to maintain the health of their employees. Inspections focus on industries and professions most frequently affected by MSD; by 2017, supervisory agencies will have visited approx. 16,000 companies.

The work programme offers at a glance

  • For everyone: The gdabewegt.de MSD portal provides employers, employees and multipliers with the information they need to prevent work-related back, muscular and joint disorders. The portal’s central offer is a database that contains around 400 offers for every industry and target group, including seminars as well as flyers, aids and CDs. The portal combines the knowledge of the institutions involved in the GDA and its partners. For more information, visit www.gdabewegt.de (German only).
  • For lecturers: The new seminar module entitled How to Embed Health into Corporate Culture [Gelebte Gesundheit am Arbeitsplatz – auf das WIE kommt es an] focuses on how managers can convince employees to take responsibility for their individual, health-related behaviour. This three-hour offer provides information on how to overcome potential employee resistance towards prevention measures and is available as a free download for lecturers in the field of occupational health. For more information, please visit gdabewegt.de/seminarmodul (German only).
  • For employees: The Conscious Movement – At Work and At Home online tool aims to motivate employees to discover and employ workplace autonomy, with a focus on behaviour and structures in the workplace. The tool provides information on potential work-related causes of musculoskeletal disorders and offers concrete tips that show how health-promoting work conditions can strengthen our backs, muscles and joints. For more information, visit www.gdabewegt.de/tipps-fuer-beschaeftigte (German only).

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