Apart from physical factors such as sitting
for too long or handling loads can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs),
psychosocial factors such as low levels of self-determination and poor
communication in the workplace also play a role.
This is the conclusion reached by the
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) in a literature review, examining the relationship between
psychosocial risk factors and MSDs as well as the importance of prevention and
Causal role of psychosocial risk factors
The study shows that psychosocial risk
factors, in combination with physical risk factors, play a causal role in the
development of MSDs in the workplace and may exacerbate them.
The mechanism by which they exert influence
is not clear at present. However, contribution of psychosocial risk factors to
the primary cause of MSDs and to the persistent nature of symptoms is apparent,
despite consistent patterns in these relationships not being identified.
For example, factors such as high workload
or lack of social support have been shown to contribute to the development of
MSDs, but it is not possible to link these or other particular psychosocial
risk factors to specific MSDs.
Therefore, all psychosocial risk factors
must be assessed and measures must be taken to reduce the most prevalent ones,
adopting a holistic and participatory approach that takes into account the
multifactorial causality of MSDs.
The study found that there was little
evidence of their considerable inclusion in the MSD risk assessment process.
Therefore, there is a clear need to develop appropriate tools or methodological
approaches to facilitate and promote holistic risk assessments.
Systematic intervention strategies
A systematic intervention strategy is
needed to identify and reduce risks. In developing and implementing this
strategy, it is important to gain the positive commitment of employees at all
levels of the company, right up to middle and senior managers.
Unlike physical interventions in the
workplace, which tend to be easier to implement, tackling psychosocial risk
factors often requires organisational changes that can only be implemented with
the acceptance and commitment of the staff.
Some of these factors could also have a
positive impact, such as positive support from colleagues and supervisors.
Ideally, an open and embracing culture should enhance such support.
the following link to find the study and a summary.