Musculoskeletal Disorders – The biggest financial risk to your business
Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at HAIX, discusses the implications of Musculoskeletal Disorders and advises how employers can help reduce the risk to employees by selecting the right safety footwear.
Simon Ash, HAIX
In the latest statistics published, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that 6.6 million working days were lost last year due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) with 156,000 new cases of workers suffering from the condition being reported. Employers should take a proactive approach to preventing this kind of injury, reducing the risk to employees and the burden on businesses from working days lost and costly fines or legal action.
MSDs are common in most industries but the agriculture, construction, logistics and transport sectors have significantly higher than average rates. In fact, the latest statistics show that the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector overtook construction as the industry where these conditions are most common. Footwear manufacturer, HAIX, has a wealth of experience in advising businesses across all sectors on how the correct use of personal protective equipment, particularly safety footwear, that can contribute to healthier and more productive employees.
MSD injuries are most often associated with pain in the joints and muscles with aching or stiffness in the back and upper limbs most common. Back pain is often linked to tasks that involve lifting and carrying, bending and crouching as well as with spending long periods in one position. With many of today’s workers required to spend a good deal of their working day on their feet, good foot care and wearing supportive, high quality, comfortable footwear can contribute to reducing the risk of these types of MSD.
Having access to the right footwear for the job is the most important factor in foot protection. The correct footwear supports the entire body and helps to reduce the risk of injury, particularly when working in slippery, wet environments. If footwear is comfortable, people are more likely to be concentrating on their task as opposed to worrying about their feet; meaning productivity significantly improves.
Well-designed safety footwear should provide all of the relevant safety features whilst incorporating exceptional comfort and breathability. As well as meeting all the required product standards, key features could include: slip resistance, a lightweight non-steel toecap, heel grips and shock absorption. Another benefit is adjustable easy to use lacing, providing the best level of protection, comfort and functionality.
To support the foot, ankle and lower limbs, it is best to choose boots that have superior cushioning technology, construction materials and design, which will help to decrease the harmful effects of impact-related stresses when the foot strikes the ground. Modern materials used in the interior lining of boots will help prevent blisters and soft-tissue injury by reducing friction and pressure. It is valuable to invest in boots that have a climatic control system that regulates temperatures within the boot.
When purchasing any kind of safety footwear, consider the following:
Comfort: Do the shoes or boots incorporate the critical safety features and would they be comfortable to wear all day? If you can, purchase models with an easy lacing system so that the process of putting boots on and taking them off at the end of the day is quick and easy.
Foot Shape: The shape of the foot fluctuates throughout the day. Ideally, boots should be tried on in the afternoon in order to get an accurate size ensuring comfort throughout the working day.
Protection: Choose boots that are right for the job and that incorporate the right safety features such as slip resistance, protective toe caps, waterproofing and breathability. For more guidance, consult an experienced manufacturer.
Musculoskeletal injuries are a major problem in the workplace and could impact on morale, and productivity. When selecting safety footwear, carry out a proper risk assessment and then consult an expert for advice and guidance on the best solution for your business.