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Musculoskeletal Injuries in UK Employees on the Rise

Musculoskeletal Injuries in UK Employees on the Rise
28 January 2021

Working from beds and dining tables is contributing to a rise in work-related musculoskeletal cases.

In 2020, there were 37.7 per cent work-related musculoskeletal cases, compared to just 1.42 per cent of workers experiencing these injuries in 2019. 

Data collected by health and safety consultancy film Arinite found that keyboard work is the third biggest cause of work-related musculoskeletal conditions, causing 11.3 per cent of cases.

They have also revealed that one in three office workers haven’t received any support/advice/kit from their employer for homeworking. The results conclude that those working from home aren’t getting enough support to cope with the physical change in their day-to-day work environment.


81% of Home Workers Experienced Neck, Back or Shoulder Pain  


More than a quarter (28.1 per cent) of UK employees reported operating from a non-work specific home location, such as a bed, sofa or dining table. 81 per cent of employees working remotely during lockdown experienced back, neck, or shoulder pain. 

Musculoskeletal disorders can affect muscles, bones, and joints. Desk jobs are common causes of these conditions, which can cause recurrent pain, swelling, aches, and stiff joints.

When severe, the discomfort experienced can interfere with everyday activities such as typing. Maintaining a healthy posture while working is vital for preventing these symptoms.


Increase in Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders


 In 2019, only 1.42 per cent of workers experienced work-related musculoskeletal disorders. This low statistic may be because only 5.1 per cent of the total UK workforce were mainly working in their own home. 

Whereas in 2020, many of us had no choice but to work from home. According to ONS, 46.6 per cent of British employees did some work at home during the lockdown. As a result, last year saw 37.70 per cent of musculoskeletal cases connected to work. 


musculoskeletal conditions

Picture: a table showing the top ten causes of musculoskeletal disorders, with keyboard work coming in third. Image credit: Arinite


Unsuitable Workspaces


In The Homeworking Impact Code, just over 28 per cent of UK employees admitted to operating from a non-work specific home location. Working from an inappropriate and unprofessional set-up such as slouching over a dining table, can cause neck, back, and hip pain.

Although 41.2 per cent of respondents used a dedicated workroom or office, many aches and pains can still occur without putting the necessary precautions in place.

To maintain a good posture while working at a desk:


  • Adjust your chair to support your lower back.
  • Set the chair height so that your forearms and wrists remain straight when using the keyboard.
  • Ensure your knees are slightly lower than your hips.
  • Keep your feet resting on the floor and don’t cross your legs.
  • Adjust your computer or use a laptop stand so that the top of the screen is at eye level.


Law Doesn’t Require Home Workstation Assessments


More than a third of office workers claimed they hadn’t received any support, advice, or equipment from their employer to assist with home working during the lockdown. 89% of people who are temporarily working from home and are in pain hadn’t told their employers. 

Although the law doesn’t require employers to conduct home workstation assessments for employees working from home temporarily, they should still offer advice.

According to HSE, if the temporary homeworking period extends, employers should hold regular discussions with workers to address whether improvements need making and deliver equipment if necessary.

Picture: a photograph of a person stretching to touch their neck, as if in pain. The photograph is taken from the back

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 28 January 2021


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