Musculoskeletal disorder and manual handling risk management guidance

Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risks can be found across all workplaces – from the heavy lifting on building sites to the repetitive strain of factory work or poor posture in the office. Fortunately, taking action could make a difference.

Risk assessment

Undertaking detailed risk assessments on manual handling and ergonomic hazards is essential to understanding your exposures. It enables a cohesive action plan to be developed and implemented to eliminate or control certain risk factors.

Risk control

Taking ‘reasonably practicable’ steps to control and mitigate risks is the key to success. MSD issues are often dismissed as trivial, ‘part of the job’ and difficult to resolve, leading companies to accept them as a risk. We believe companies should make sure they have the right focus and resources in place to minimise the risk of MSD issues in the workplace.

Risk profiling

Look to improve incident investigations and trend analysis to identify ‘hot spots’ which can be effectively targeted with risk reduction measures.

Chris Andrews, Director of Risk Management Solutions

“At Aviva, our proactive prevention philosophy to risk management allows us to help our clients effectively manage the risks that may cause musculoskeletal injuries. By sharing information and advice on how to approach this, we hope to help you protect your people and your business from this problem.” 

Risk assessment

If you've identified medium or high musculoskeletal disorder risks in your business, it’s important to have a detailed manual handling risk assessment. You can identify manual handling or repetitive tasks by breaking down employee tasks completed over a typical working week. It’s also worth taking into account other lifestyle factors that may contribute to daily ‘wear and tear’ such as hobbies, health factors and psychological factors.

Incident investigation

The key to understanding the cause of a musculoskeletal injury is to conduct a thorough investigation following an incident. What does your employee regularly do? What were they doing in the days before the incident? What training have they had and when was it last done? The more you understand about an incident the more you can do to mitigate the risk of it happening again.

Musculoskeletal disorder solutions

Long-term back health can be negatively impacted by wear and tear through years of poor lifting and handling practices or poor posture. By identifying occupational risk factors and acting on these, employees and employers could reduce chronic back injuries.


Musculoskeletal disorder prevention training could support your workforce to understand how they can protect themselves. We can offer training for managers, supervisors, engineers and employees through our Specialist Partner, EdApp.

Human Machine Interface (HMI)

Working with modern technology and their interfaces could lead to static postures and a reduction of physical activity, ultimately causing musculoskeletal disorder related problems. Good ergonomic design which takes into consideration both the employee’s physical and mental capabilities could help to protect your workforce.

Work environment

The right design of workplaces and individual workstations can have an impact on manual handling risks. From working in confined spaces to keeping static body postures over long periods, getting your workplace designed ergonomically is important to protect your workforce.

Workforce profile

The UK has an aging workforce profile and therefore workers are increasingly likely to have several chronic health conditions, of which musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) may be one. Interventions for your workforce age profile may help. Encouraging employees to increase their physical exercise, with activities like resistance training or chair yoga, or recommending regular movement throughout the day, may help to minimise MSD-related sickness absence.

*Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Help minimise risks with our Specialist Partners

We have a wealth of experience in helping customers protect their business. As well as insurance, we provide a vast offering of other products and services to help prevent accidents and losses. As an Aviva policyholder, these products and services are available to you at preferential rates, helping you reduce risk in your business. From fire to escape of water, security to motor, health and safety to business resilience – all our partners have an established pedigree in the risk management sector.

Find out more

Need further help or assistance?

Call our Risk Help Line to speak to our Risk Management Solutions team for help and advice on

0345 366 6666

Opening times: Monday - Friday* 9:00am - 5:00pm

* Excludes Bank Holidays. The cost of calls to 03 prefixed numbers are charged at national call rates (charges may vary dependent on your network provider) and are usually included in inclusive minute plans from landlines and mobiles. For our joint protection telephone calls may be recorded and/or monitored.