I attended an event in Dublin today called Fit for Work Ireland. This is an EU wide initiative focussed on keeping the Irish labour force healthy. The particular health focus of this initiative is on Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). To the lay person this means joint and soft tissues injuries such as strains, pains and aches that can often be recurring problems such as back pain.
According to the statistics MSD related ill health costs Ireland €750 million per annum with the loss of 7 million working days. The €750 annual cost includes illness benefit payments by the state, overtime payments, lost productivity and costs to the health system. The average duration of absence because of an MSD is 22 weeks, nearly half a working year. So this type of health condition can be very disruptive for both an employee and employer.
Ireland has a younger workforce than the EU average where there is a bigger issue because of the age of the workers. In Ireland 30% of illness benefit claims relate to MSDs compared to the EU average of 49%. However as Ireland’s workforce ages and also may have to stay working longer before they can claim their pensions it becomes more and more important to keep them healthy. This isn’t just an issue for the individual or the employer but for the general productivity of the economy and burden on the state caused by ill health.
So what can be done. The event advocated early intervention to deal with injury so the person could get back to work quicker. No particular interventions were discussed however from my own experience and involvement with healthcare at www.lifeandbalance.ie I would recommend drug free non-invasive approaches such as consulting a Chiropractor registered with the Chiropractic Association of Ireland.