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March 26, 2010

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Free information – Tool to tackle major workplace worry

A new tool has been launched by the HSE to help organisations tackle one of the most common occupational illnesses among employees.

The Executive says the Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool, which it developed in conjunction with the Health and Safety Laboratory, can help identify where the significant risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of the upper limbs lie, suggests where to focus risk-reduction measures, and helps prioritise improvements.

MSDs affect more than 500,000 people every year and are often linked to repetitive work tasks, such as packing on a production line, or the regular use of hand tools.

Senior ergonomist at the HSL, Jeremy Ferreira said: “Assessing quick repetitive movements of the arms and hands can be more difficult than assessing manual-handling operations, like heavy lifting. Often, actions to reduce MSDs caused by repetitive tasks are incredibly simple, yet are overlooked by employers because the risks are not so readily recognised.”

He concluded: “The ART tool makes it much easier to determine where the risks lie, and what measures should be taken by employers, together with their workforce, to reduce the potential for injury.”

The tool complements existing HSE guidance on upper limbs, and is available to download free at www.hse.gov.uk/msd/uld/art or in hard copy (INDG438).

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