Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD): a prevalent illness in many workplaces

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are characterised by discomfort, impairment, disability, or persistent pain in the joints, muscles, tendons or other soft tissues. They are the most common self-reported, work-related illness in many workplaces. High incidence rates for WMSDs have been reported for workers in a wide range of industries including office work, manufacturing, agriculture and numerous manual materials' handling occupations.

​​WMSD can result in direct costs, such as compensation and medical expenditure, as well as indirect costs such as disruption in productivity and quality, worker replacement costs, training and absence costs. It has become a major concern because of the negative impact on the health and productivity of employees and is therefore a significant problem for both employers and workers to pay attention to.

As many of us spend a significant amount of time on our personal computers at work, good ergonomics at the workplace is critical. By learning the proper way to handle and use office equipment, we will be able to prevent undesirable health problems such as headaches, neck and shoulder pain.

WMSD in Singapore

In a recent study conducted by the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, on the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) among office workers in Singapore, it was found that 73.4% of the 324 respondents reported experiencing pain in at least one of the body parts. The body parts with the highest report of pain were neck (46%), shoulder (42%) and low back (42%). There was a higher prevalence of MSD in females (78.8%) compared to males (63.9%) and this was statistically significant (p=0.003).

See next page for the​ causes of w​ork-related musculoskeletal disorders​.

Ref: Q15