The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) has brought out new guidance on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace.

MSDs are conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. They often appear in the tendons, muscles, joints, blood vessels and/or nerves of the limbs and back.

The Guide on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace aims to bring together information from different sources on the prevention and management of MSDs in the workplace.

This may be seen by some as essential guidance at a time when MSDs have been cited as the leading cause of work disability in the European Union (EU).

A massive 29% (34,654 days) of all absences in Northern Ireland councils (local authorities) were due to musculoskeletal problems or back and neck problems according to the Northern Ireland Audit Office 2010.

The guide advises that the main elements for preventing MSDs are policy on prevention and management of MSDs, risk assessments and safe systems of work plans (SSWPs), training, accident and near miss reporting and investigation, injury management (retention, rehabilitation and return to work) and internal auditing.