Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most common work related injuries and diseases in NSW, and can have long-term, costly impacts for businesses and workers.
An MSD is an injury to, or disease of, the body’s musculoskeletal system and includes sprains and strains of muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. MSDs can result from gradual wear and tear and/or sudden damage to these parts of the body, and are commonly caused by hazardous manual tasks and slips, trips and falls.
When workers are required to perform a manual task, there are certain characteristics that make it hazardous. These are:
When workers are exposed to these characteristics of a hazardous manual task (risk factors), there is a greater risk of them getting a work related MSD.
There are physical, psychosocial and organisational causal factors in the workplace that may drive the presence and severity of risk factors for a hazardous manual task. It is recognised that these causal factors are interrelated and can impact upon each other.
Data shows that MSDs span across all industries and occupations. Hazardous manual tasks are the most common cause of injury, accounting for 29 per cent of workplace injuries in NSW(1).
By implementing this Musculoskeletal Disorder Strategy (the Strategy), SafeWork NSW intends to deliver on the Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 commitment to reduce serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses. NSW has met and exceeded the original target of a 30% reduction, and accordingly the Government have set a more ambitious target. By 2022, NSW aims to achieve a 50 per cent decline in the incidence rate of serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses.
2. This reduction will be measured against the baseline in the National Strategy. For serious musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses the baseline is the average of the relevant incidence rate for the three financial years 2009/10 to 2011/12.
3. Major musculoskeletal injury and disease claims 2013/14 to 2015/16, NSW Workers’ Compensation Claims data.
* Incidents resulting in one or more weeks off work. This decline is measured over ten years from 2012 to 2022.
Description of success
NSW businesses embed a work health and safety landscape that addresses risks that lead to MSDs
NSW businesses use a systematic approach to eliminate and/or reduce exposure to MSD hazards and risk factors
NSW businesses, injured workers and health professionals work together to learn from MSD injuries and make improvements
MSD prevention is given priority in all work processes and decisions by:
Businesses have capacity to effectively manage MSD hazards and risks by:
All parties work together to support injured workers to recover at work and learn from injury experiences by:
|NSW businesses use consultation and communication as the foundation for the effective management of MSDs|
The Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022 aims to embed the health and safety landscape in NSW workplaces.
SafeWork NSW approach to engaging and partnering with stakeholders for the delivery of the strategy
|Customer focused approach|
Research and learning
Prioritise occupations, sectors and workplaces that are at greatest risk
Use innovative approaches to equip businesses and leaders with resources to drive effective management of MSDs
Provide advice on compliance and risk management of MSDs
Work with influencers to increase understanding of their role in preventing MSDs
The Strategy will run until 2022 and will be supported by an MSD Action Plan and ongoing engagement with an MSD Stakeholder Consultative Committee.
The Action Plan follows a risk-based approach. It identifies the industry sectors and occupations that have the highest number of serious MSDs each year and describes the actions SafeWork NSW will take to support these businesses. Reviewed annually, this plan provides a focused approach, allowing SafeWork NSW to be responsive to changes in industry sectors and occupations.
The MSD Strategy 2017-2022 aims to change attitudes, improve knowledge and behaviours around the way work-related MSDs are prevented and managed, whilst ensuring compliance with work health and safety legislative requirements.
This 2018–19 Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Action Plan (the Action Plan) has been developed to support the delivery of the MSD Strategy 2017-2022.
This Action Plan follows a risk-based approach, identifying the industry sectors and occupations that have the highest number of serious MSDs each year and describes the actions SafeWork NSW will take to support these businesses.
Reviewed annually, this plan provides a targeted approach allowing SafeWork NSW to be responsive to changes in industry sectors and occupations. We are focusing on the industries and occupations most at risk, as well as engaging people who may influence a worker’s exposure to Hazardous Manual Tasks (HMT) and their Recovery at Work, including industry and workplace leaders, people responsible for purchasing, designers and engineers, allied health professionals and educators.
In NSW, some of the highest rates of MSDs are found in the Health care and social assistance and Manufacturing industries, and workers within the occupations of nursing and storepersons. We will implement programs focused on these industries and occupations throughout 2018/19.
In addition to these focus industries and occupations, we will undertake work to support the delivery of the Industry action plans in Agriculture, Government, Construction and Transport as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Roadmap for NSW 2022.
|SafeWork NSW MSD work plan for 2018/19|
|Research – Working with the Centre for Work Health and Safety|