This is a category taken from the full feed of Musculoskeletal and Arthritis news provided by ARMA's members.

Tag: MSK & employment

In July and August 2020, NRAS ran a survey asking about the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the working lives of people living with rheumatoid arthritis or another form of inflammatory arthritis.

The survey received 348 responses and a short report will be published next month. The overall picture is a concerning one: people reported that their career opportunities, in-work support and the understanding they experienced from colleagues and employers dropped slightly during lockdown. Asked about their expectations for the future, many expected this trend to get worse.

The survey brought up positives as well: most respondents spoke of getting appropriate support and that most employers and colleagues were understanding. Many reported more flexibility from their employers – 66% were supportive or very supportive of those shielding; a further 23% were ‘only as supportive as necessary’.

The NRAS report will go into all this in more detail, but it is already clear that we must encourage employers to support staff with long-term conditions, highlight the resources and support available to them to do so, and highlight examples of good practice.

Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and capability to work

NICE published this final guideline on the NICE website. You can also find the supporting evidence, tools and resources as well as all the stakeholder comments NICE received during consultation and the responses to these comments.

The recommendations from this guideline have been included in the NICE Pathway on Managing long-term sickness absence and capability to work, which brings together everything NICE said on Workplace health: long-term sickness absence and capability to work in an interactive flowchart.

If you have any further queries, please contact

A new resource on MSDs for workplaces – ‘Conversation Starters for workplace discussions on musculoskeletal disorders’ – is now available online from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA).

This is an Occupational safety and health (OSH) resource for running workplace group discussions on MSDs and their prevention. Each activity includes an MSD scenario and a series of questions to facilitate discussion.

The discussion activities also cover raising MSD issues promptly with your employer, and how to speak with your employer/employee about an individual MSD problem, including an RMD – see conversation starters 9 to 12. The resource includes annexes providing tips for employers and workers about having a conversation about an RMD.

Read the news article from EU-OSHA and download the resource here.

by Laura Boothman, Senior Policy Manager, Versus Arthritis

The Government is inviting views on how we can live longer, healthier lives. There are some positive proposals for people with arthritis – but Versus Arthritis will continue to demand more action to help people look after their musculoskeletal health. 

In 2018, the Government set a mission to ensure that by 2035, people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life and to narrow the gap between the richest and poorest in the country. On 22 July 2019, ‘Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s’ was released. This official green paper sets out the Government’s suggestions to tackle preventable ill health and invites people to give their views. So what does this mean for people with arthritis? 

Recognition of the impact of arthritis

The green paper highlights that, for the last 30 years, musculoskeletal conditions that cause problems with joints, bones and muscles have been the most common reason for years lived with disability in England. We know that too often arthritis is simply dismissed or overlooked, so this recognition by Government is important. However, we were also expecting concrete actions that would make a real difference and help people to look after their musculoskeletal health.

Action to tackle musculoskeletal conditions in workplaces

We know that people with arthritis often want to work but can find this difficult. That’s why Versus Arthritis is actively campaigning so that people have better support to be in work. VA welcomes proposals in the paper that the Government will bring together experts to review guidance for employers, develop a package of tools for employers to use to support their employees, and how these can be better promoted and used. These ideas, alongside proposals to address job loss due to ill-health are a start, though more needs to be done to put suggestions into practice and to build understanding of the impact arthritis has on people’s working lives.

Other areas for action

Several other proposals are promising for people with arthritis, including:

  • A call for evidence on musculoskeletal conditions, including priority areas for action such as awareness raising, physical activity, behaviour change programmes and links between mental and musculoskeletal health. Government is also interested in what data should be routinely collected about musculoskeletal conditions;
  • A digital design challenge for strength and balance exercises, focused on people with health conditions;
  • Work with charities and Sport England on a new physical activity campaign; and
  • A ‘Home of 2030’ design competition to explore how more energy efficient, accessible and adaptable homes can be designed.

What happens next?

The consultation runs until mid-October and Versus Arthritis’ policy and public affairs team will be working to ensure that views of people with arthritis are heard by Government through this process. VA does not accept that these proposals are enough and will demand more to tackle the pain, fatigue and isolation that arthritis causes. Add your voice and campaign with Versus Arthritis.

Last year, ARMA members helped Glykeria Skamagki, the senior lecturer in Physiotherapy at Coventry University, with the first stage of a study into chronic musculoskeletal conditions and their management at the workplace. The results were very interesting and now to follow-up the researchers are conducting a survey to identify the strategies that older employees use to manage chronic musculoskeletal conditions at the workplace.

The aim is to understand the problems highlighted at the interview stage, explore the opinion of the larger population, and ultimately to help people work better. All these become especially important since the changing of the retirement age and state pension age.

An introduction to the research project is available here, and you can participate in the ‘Survey on chronic musculoskeletal disorders’ via this link.

Corresponding to ARMA’s Construction Roundtable and the report we published at the end of May, the British Dieticians’ Association would like to direct those interested to their BDA Work Ready programme, which is aimed at all employers, including the construction industry:

One major criticism of the NHS Long Term Plan was the lack of any detail on workforce. This detail has begun to emerge with the publication of the Interim People Plan for the NHS. It looks at the need to transform the way the entire workforce, including doctors, nurses, allied health professionals (AHPs), pharmacists, healthcare scientists, dentists, non-clinical professions, social workers in the NHS, commissioners, non-executives and volunteers, work together. It works on the basis that multi-professional clinical teams will be the foundation of the future workforce, rather than treating the workforce as a group of separate professions.

This new multi-professional way of working will be essential for MSK services, where there are high levels of multimorbidity and good person-centred care is rarely the responsibility of one professional.

The plan has 5 themes:

  • Making the NHS the best place to work
  • Improving the leadership culture
  • Tackling the nursing challenge
  • Delivering 21st century care
  • A new operating model for workforce

A full, costed five-year People Plan will be developed later this which will build on the vision and actions in this interim Plan. This will set out in more detail the changes to multi-professional education and training, career paths, skill mix and ways of working needed and quantify in more detail the full range of additional staff needed for each of the NHS Long Term Plan service priorities.

There are accompanying documents setting out the vision for the future workforce for allied health professionals and psychological professions; dental; healthcare science; medical; and pharmacy.

Action is needed to tackle £646 million burden of bone, joint and muscle problems, a new ARMA report says.

construction-work-related-pieIndustry leaders called for action to tackle the huge burden of bone, joint and muscle conditions on people in the construction industry, in a report released today (30/05/2019). Physically demanding work means the construction industry has one of the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders costing £646 million every year – accounting for over three-quarters of all occupational ill-health costs.

The report from the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance (ARMA) followed a roundtable meeting of industry leaders. The key issues identified were:

  • Prevention – requires proactivity and understanding people’s motivations to change behaviour.
  • Early support helps bone, joint or muscle disorders, but people first need to feel comfortable talking openly about them, not as a sign of weakness and without fearing job loss.
  • SMEs – In construction, small companies employ many workers, including transient workers. Solutions could include building control officers, who go on every site, flagging issues with smaller companies, or larger employers influencing supply chains to prioritise this.

report document coverAdrian Shah-Cundy from VolkerWessells UK, a speaker at the roundtable said,

VolkerWessels UK are proud to be lead sponsor on this initiative. We recognise the need to refocus efforts on the continued issue of MSDs in construction, as part of our responsibility to maintain a workplace free from injury and ill-health. This is a challenging subject due to the physical nature of our activities but, as the figures demonstrate, as an industry we still have a way to go to practically improve working practices and preventive measures. We welcome the opportunity to work with, and learn from, a diverse range of stakeholders for the betterment of health and wellbeing.

Industry leaders concluded that all employers needed:

  • a musculoskeletal disorders action plan, developing awareness of bone, joint and muscle problems beyond just manual handling;
  • awareness of MSDs and to encourage open conversations and support when employees are struggling;
  • routine monitoring of employee musculoskeletal health and wellbeing.

The full report, Musculoskeletal Conditions in the Construction Industry, is available here from 30 May 2019.

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