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MSK champions could cut sickness absence, says business charity

3 August 2017 - 4:25pm

Businesses need wellbeing champions to promote good musculoskeletal (MSK) health for staff, says charity Business in the Community in its Musculoskeletal Health Toolkit for Employers.

3 minutes with Marcus Hunt

Unilver’s Marcus Hunt says 20 minutes of exercise each day helps to reduce depression and the incidence of MSK injury

MSK problems contribute to the £100 billion a year lost to the UK economy due to sickness absence, according to the charity, and their toolkit says that each workplace has its own circumstances that can affect MSK health – positively and negatively.

It aims to help employers understand the challenges specific to individual workplaces, reduce the risks of MSK problems and, where possible, help to keep those with existing problems in work and aid recovery.

It makes a range of recommendations, including encouraging office employees to move more during their working day. And advises that employers can fit some standing desks and encourage walking meetings.

The toolkit has case studies by Ruth Todd, senior physiotherapist in occupational health at Aintree University Hospital NHS Trust and Marcus Hunt, health and wellbeing manager at Unilever.

Just 20 minutes a day

Ms Todd says her trust’s wellbeing strategy recognises the goals of the NHS Commissioning for Quality and Innovation scheme. This includes a new standard focused on the health and wellbeing of staff.

MSK issues account for up to 40 per cent of Unilver’s wellbeing costs within its occupational health and medical insurance scheme, says physiotherapist Mr Hunt.

He says the company has built a programme to showcase its support and to encourage employees to prevent and manage MSK conditions.

His case study says that being active – just 20 minutes each day – has a notable impact upon depression, some cancers and a reduction in the incidence of MSK injury.

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