Telecommunications Work and Musculo-skeletal Disorders

Musculo-skeletal disorders (MSD) are the most significant occupational
condition within the European Union affecting a broad spectrum of workers with
consequential suffering and economic loss. 

Research by the Health and Safety Working Group of the Social Dialogue
Committee for Telecommunications in 2003 revealed that over 60% of the 1.3
million people employed in the sector are display screen equipment (DSE)
workers while approximately one quarter are service technicians; risk
assessment of this latter group showed 85% to be at high or medium risk of
developing MSD. It further showed that a range of activities are being
undertaken to address these problems but there is no clear statement of good
practice which would help to provide a common understanding of the risks and
how they can be minimised.

The Social Partners therefore determined to conduct further and more detailed
research in this area so that good practice relating to the prevention of MSD
could be accurately defined and then widely promulgated.

The findings of the Literature Review and of the Survey of Working Practices
have been synthesised by the occupational health and safety practitioners of
the MSD Project Steering Group to produce Good Practice Guidelines. The
guidelines summarise the evidence linking telecommunications work to various
MSD, describe the legislative framework within the EU and highlight the
importance of using a biopsychosocial model for these disorders.

The recommendations are set out in two parts:

  1. The general principles for the prevention of MSD:

    Work organisation

    Manual handling


    Repetitive work

    Physical and psycho-social issues

    Monitoring, audit and review

  2. Specific work activities associated with the greatest risk of MSD:

    Pole erection


    Underground cabling installation

    Installation of underground ducting

    Manhole cover removal

    Ladder handling

    Temporary working at height

    Portable DSE use

    Customer Contact Centre work

Further Information

AplusA-online.de - Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work