For those health professionals or practitioners who work within the OHS/WHS consulting space, the below information wont be a surprise to many of you. With an increase in musculoskeletal disorders and costs to Australia we have many challenges ahead. Below is a brief summary of the key findings from the introduction and overview of the report “work related musculoskeletal disorders in Australia” 2019.  For those of you would like to look at this report in more detail, please click here.

Key Take Away Points

  • Musculoskeletal disorders affected 6.9 million people in 2014/15, contributing to 12 percent of Australia’s total burden of disease and injury. 
  • The subset “back pain and problems” contributed to 31% of Australia’s musculoskeletal disorders burden. 
  • For Australia’s workforce, work related musculoskeletal disorders are the leading work health and safety (WHS) problem, both in frequency and cost (24 billion in 2012/13). 
  • People in good work are more likely to have better health than those who aren’t employeed.
  • Poor quality jobs may be more harmful to health than being unemployed. 
  • We are an ageing population and older workers are more prone to a range of chronic health conditions.  Poor health is a predictor of premature retirement from the workforce.
  • Once injured an off work, older workers take longer to return to work and take longer periods away from work once they return.
  • People who work in jobs with high levels of work related musculoskeletal related hazards have a greater age related deterioration in their ability to continue working compared to those in other jobs.
  • There continues to be an importance of maintaining employment once injured and that early return to work is linked with better outcomes.
  • Pain is not a reliable indicator of whether someone should be working or not. 
  • There should be a focus on accommodating workers with injuries and facilitating a return to work without aggravation of their condition and this needs to involve all key stakeholders.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy and Corporate Work Health Australia.