Musculoskeletal Disorders: Association with Psychosocial Risk Factors at Work


Issued by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA), according to this literature review:

  • Psychosocial risk factors can combine with physical risk factors to cause MSDs.

  • Many conceptual models of the relationships between workplace risks and MSDs have been developed.

  • The mechanism through which psychosocial risks exert their influence is not entirely clear.

  • There are limitations to the research evidence available on psychosocial risk factors and MSDs.

  • Workplace interventions should be developed to address the increased risk of MSDs due to psychosocial risks.

  • A systematic intervention strategy to identify and reduce risks is required.

EU-OSHA identify several key elements for a potentially effective intervention strategy:

  • Commitment.

  • Holistic risk assessment adopting a participatory approach.

  • Encourage and support an honest and open approach.

  • Multiple effects (psychosocial risk factors can have a direct negative impact on psychological health and well-being and on MSDs).

  • Risk prevention.

  • Ongoing review.

  • Rehabilitation, not just initial prevention.

There remains further areas for research, says the report, particularly in trying to understand the relative contribution of exposure to different risks and consequent responses.


Other areas include causation and the causal mechanisms, individual psychological factors that potentially affect the persistence of MSDs and their symptoms, together with the rehabilitation process, and the development of suitable tools or procedural approaches to facilitate holistic risk assessments and their widespread promotion and advocacy within industry.


The report is available here.


An executive summary can be found here.


EU-OSHA November 2021



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