What are the causes of musculoskeletal disorders?
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders affect the back, neck, shoulders and upper limbs, but can also affect the lower limbs. They include any damage or disturbance to joints or other tissues. The spectrum of health problems is wide: from mild pain to more serious conditions that require time off work or treatment. In the case of chronic conditions, they can even lead to disability and the need to quit work. Most musculoskeletal disorders develop over time. Typically, there is no single cause of musculoskeletal disorders; Often, different risk factors are involved, acting together, including physical and biomechanical, organizational and psychosocial, and individual factors. Physical and biomechanical risk factors may include:
- carrying heavy objects, especially with a bent and twisted torso,
- repetitive or vigorous movements,
- uncomfortable and immobile position,
- vibrations, poor lighting or low temperature of the working environment,
- fast pace of work,
- prolonged sitting or standing in the same position.
Organizational and psychosocial risk factors may include:
- high job requirements or low autonomy,
- no breaks or no possibility to change the work position,
- work at high speed, also as a consequence of the introduction of new technologies,
- long working hours and shift work,
- bullying, harassment and discrimination in the workplace,
- low level of job satisfaction.
In essence, all psychosocial and organizational factors (especially when combined with physical hazards) can lead to stress, fatigue, anxiety, and other responses, which in turn increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Individual risk factors may include:
- medical history,
- physical performance,
- lifestyle and habits (eg smoking, no exercise).