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January 19, 2024
NSC: Large companies better at managing MSD risks

Larger organizations—ones that have more than 1,000 employees—are generally more effective at mitigating musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk, according to a new report compiled by the National Safety Council (NSC).

On January 10, the NSC announced the release of its first “MSD Solutions Index Pledge Community Report,” surveying 52 organizations that joined the NSC’s MSD Pledge. The MSD Pledge is an initiative that was launched in June 2022 by the NSC’s MSD Solutions Lab. The MSC Solutions Index is a benchmarking tool for assessing an organization’s improvement in reducing the MSD risks its workers face.

Insights from the report include:

  • No organization earned a perfect score on the MSD Solutions Index, but 85% of organizations received overall results in the “advancing” (39%) or “proactive” (46%) categories, while 15% were in the “reactive” category. Fifty-four percent rated their workplace's ability to prevent MSDs as either very good or excellent.
  • 44% of organizations were “advancing” in risk reduction.
  • 42% received a “proactive” score for their safety culture.
  • Results were slightly lower for innovation and collaboration, with 31% scoring as “reactive.”

Eight in 10 pledge members have an ergonomics program or some form of MSD prevention in place, and 65% have methods for tracking MSD rates across their workplace, according to the NSC.

Nearly two-thirds of organizations regularly conduct employee perception surveys, and nearly 90% have methods in place for workers to share suggestions for safety improvements. Regularly consulting frontline workers on issues such as workstation design, employees’ physical work environment, and workflow leads to stronger safety cultures, according to the MSD Solutions Lab.

While larger organizations are more likely to administer employee perception surveys, they saw lower levels of trust and frontline worker involvement in decision-making, according to the report.

Nearly 85% of organizations reported that psychosocial risk factors contribute to MSDs in their workplace—risk factors that include mental health, fatigue, a lack of tracking, and a lack of personnel and proper equipment or tools.

More than 80% of pledging members that completed the MSD Solutions Index are currently using technology in their workplace to prevent MSDs.

The report offered steps employers can take to have more impactful MSD prevention programs:

  • Engage senior leadership, designating an MSD solutions champion to represent the workforce, and create and empower an MSD solutions team to collaborate throughout an organization.
  • Regularly collect and respond to employee feedback, and measure the progress of an MSD program and safety culture, tracking the impact, solutions effectiveness, return on investment, and year-over-year change.
  • Identify risk factors through involvement with frontline workers in implementing appropriate changes.

MSDs are the most common workplace injury, according to insurer Liberty Mutual’s Workplace Safety Index, costing U.S. businesses in the private sector nearly $17 billion a year. The NSC established the MSD Solutions Lab in 2021 with funding from Amazon to address workplace MSDs.

The MSD Solutions Index is intended to hold organizations accountable for their pledge commitments in advancing MSD risk reduction, innovation and collaboration, and safety culture.

The NSC is a not-for-profit organization focused on preventing deaths in the home, in the workplace, and on the roadways.

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