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Exercise and Training at Work

How to reduce and prevent musculoskeletal injuries at work

Musculoskeletal problems cost the community a huge amount of money each year in the form of sickness absence, health care and diminishing productivity. 25% of Europe's working people complain of back pain and 23% of myalgia and are musculoskeletal problems, the main reason for the disease in Europe as well as the US and Canada (Murray et al., 2012; Punnett & Wegman, 2004).

According to figures from 27 European countries, 50% of all sickness victims can be traced to musculoskeletal problems (Bevan et al., 2009). The main risk factors for musculoskeletal problems are jobless work, such as office work, which primarily increases the risk of neck and shoulders pain, as well as physically challenging jobs. In physically challenging occupations, there are mainly five factors that increase the risk of musculoskeletal problems:

  1. Burning and moving on heavy loads
  2. To work with the back and / or turn
  3. Working with hands above the shoulder height
  4. Unique stress work
  5. Vibration

In addition to these risk factors, research has shown that the risk of musculoskeletal problems increases if there are certain psychosocial risks, including high levels of workload, mental stress at work, impaired autonomy, lack of social support, impaired job satisfaction, contradictory messages and work-related stress (Widanarko, Legg , Devereux, & Stevenson, 2014).

According to 2014 figures, a large proportion of working people find musculoskeletal pain several times a week, from 31% of office workers, up to 47% of masonry. A study of 5000 healthcare workers showed that the risk of long-term sickness absence decreased significantly if pain decreased, although only a small decrease. This relationship was the strongest among those with the greatest pain and shows that by reducing pain a little can be enjoyed when it comes to sickness absence.

Lars L. Andersen of the Danish Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health (NRCWE) is a researcher in the field of workplace training recently, and has recently taught NIVA at the Hotel Saga that deals with training and physical activity at the workplace. The most recent research on the stage was discussed, how is it best to assess workplace and occupational interventions, cost analysis of such components and how to develop the results of research into interventions that work in the workplace. The main objective of the components in this field is to increase physical activity, increase strength, reduce sedentary restraint and reduce musculoskeletal problems and improve physical and mental health.

Musculoskeletal problems, risk factors and the effect of training

With age, the physical ability of individuals diminishes, thus increasing the likelihood of sickness absence and invalidity due to musculoskeletal problems. Studies show that the effects of workloads are worse for older workers, and the greater the physical stress at work, the higher the probability of long-term sickness absence.

The easiest way to explain why work-related musculoskeletal problems arise is the mismatch between capacity and job vs. demands. As the work makes unrealistic demands to the individual based on his ability, the risk of stress symptoms increases. Work protection is mainly about changing and improving work and working environments to bridge the gap between them, training and exercise can help the individual to cope with the tasks while improving his health.

Research-based training programs organized and controlled by professionals have shown positive long-term effects on the pain, ability of the individual and physiological changes in the muscles. Anything down to 2 minutes of strengthened training per day can have a positive effect on pain, although it is recommended that a total of less than one hour per week training be given, regardless of how time is divided. Group training, proximity workplace equipment, time, participation and trainer are factors that have been shown to affect whether workout training interventions work.


The exercise paradox

It often causes people to contemplate when it is being suggested that those who work hard work and / or strengthen their training outside, as many consider the work themselves to be more than enough. The exercise of labor is often a pain and muscular disorder, but organized exercise and training can prevent or reduce pain, called the exercise paradox. The difference lies in several factors that are present in difficult work, but not when training is being pursued with health promotion as a guiding principle. These factors include hard work on muscles and joints in the movements, too long muscles and joints are under stress, too little rest time for the muscles, too many repetitions and / or combined effects over time (cumulative effect).

Healthcare interventions at the workplace

When designing interventions to enhance physical activity / training in the workplace, all factors that may be motivated for employees and employers, such as fewer days of sickness, less pain, fewer casualties, and other factors that may be hampering, such as cost, time pressure and sweat, to name a few. When determining what factors could affect, they can be appropriately addressed in the intervention structure. While the efficacy of well-organized healthcare components in workplaces has been demonstrated, it is important for employers to assess more things that can not be set for price targets, such as job satisfaction, workplace culture, mental health of employees, etc.

Today, much attention is paid to the employee-oriented approach - in health promotion. This approach focuses on what is interesting and realistic for each workplace and for each employee. After all, we are all unequal and that which suits one place or employee does not necessarily suit other people.

Steinþóra Jónsdóttir, expert at the Labor and Health Department of Occupational Safety and Health

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